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Grasslands, People, and Conservation: Over-the-Horizon Learning Exchanges between African and American Pastoralists

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Abstract: 

The world's grasslands and large migratory populations of wildlife have been disproportionately lost or disrupted by human activities, yet are poorly represented in protected areas. The major threats they face are land subdivision and the loss of large-scale dynamic processes such as wildlife migrations and fire. The large-scale dynamical processes and ubiquity of livestock economies and cultures across the grasslands calls for an integrated ecosystem approach to conservation to make up the shortfall in protected-area coverage. Ranchers and pastoralists will be more inclined to adopt an integrated landscape approach to conservation if they also see the threats to wildlife and grassland ecosystems as affecting their livelihoods and way of life. We arranged a series of learning exchanges between African and American pastoralists, ranchers, scientists, and conservationists aimed at building the collaboration and consensus needed to conserve grasslands at a landscape level. There was broad agreement on the threat of land fragmentation to livelihoods, wildlife, and grasslands. The exchanges also identified weaknesses in prevailing public, private, and community modes of ownership in halting fragmentation. New collaborative approaches were explored to attain the benefits of privatization while keeping the landscape open. The African–U.S. exchanges showed that learning exchanges can anticipate over-the-horizon problems and speed up the feedback loops that underlie adaptive management and build social and ecological resilience.
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Keywords: Grupo Fronterizo Malpai; Maasai; Malpai Borderlands Group; adaptive management; collaborative conservation; conservación cooperativa; grasslands; learning networks; llanuras; manejo adaptativo; pastizales; pastoralists; pastores; ranchers; rangelands; redes de aprendizaje

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: African Conservation Centre, P.O. Box 62844, Langata Road, Karen, Nairobi, Kenya

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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