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What are rangelands?

Rangelands – areas that consist predominantly of grasses, grass-like plants, and shrubs - encompass almost half the world’s land surface. Across Central and West Asia and North Africa they are the single largest land type and comprise over two-thirds of the region’s total land area. These areas are extremely varied in terms of precipitation, elevation, steepness, and aspect.

Once used primarily as sources of forage for livestock and wildlife, rangelands now support a much wider variety of services and ecosystem functions. These include eco-tourism, mitigating climate change via carbon sequestration, storing genetic diversity, and offering opportunities for ranching and mining. Appropriate rangeland management is not only important for the social and economic development of pastoral communities, but also for the whole of humanity.

Since its inception, ICARDA’s rangeland research program has progressively expanded across the arid and semi-arid areas of Central and West Asia and North Africa. Our activities have included community-based rangeland rehabilitation, biodiversity characterization, and sustainable grazing strategies. ICARDA research has also highlighted the importance of property rights, policy options, and social and institutional factors.