Rangeland and Range Resources
Rangelands, a broad category of land comprising more than 40% of the earth’s land area, are characterized by native plant communities, which are often associated with grazing, and are managed by ecological, rather than agronomic methods.
The term “range” can also include forestlands that have grazing resources, or seeded lands that are managed like rangeland. Range resources are not limited to the grazable forage, but may include wildlife, water and many other benefits.
Management of Rangeland Ecosystems
The Society believes that rangeland ecosystems should be managed to provide optimum sustained yield of tangible and intangible products and benefits for human welfare. This can only be achieved through the sound use of ecological and economic principles. The use of valid resource inventories and monitoring are a basic requirement for planning and management of rangeland resources. Other manipulative management practices, including fire and integrated pest management may be employed to create positive changes in the landscape through development of sustainable, desired plant communities.
- Multiple Use of Rangeland Resources
The Society supports managing combinations of rangeland uses, which best meet the needs and desires of people and are compatible with the sustainability and adaptability of the land. Multiple use management, where appropriate, is encouraged on both public and private lands.
Uses of rangeland the Society for Range Management supports includes:
- Livestock Grazing: Rangelands constitute an important forage base for livestock, and livestock constitute an important management tool for rangelands. The Society supports appropriately planned and monitored livestock grazing based on scientific principles that meet management goals and societal needs.
- Water Management: Rangelands constitute a large portion of the water producing land area of the earth. The Society promotes rangeland management that results in healthy ecosystems which enhance the quality of water and minimize soil erosion and sedimentation.
- Wildlife Management: Rangelands provide habitat for many species of wildlife. The Society promotes ecologically sound wildlife management integrated with rangeland management practices to maintain or restore desired wildlife habitat.
- Management of Aesthetic Value: Rangelands possess natural beauty and other aesthetic values. The Society supports the concept that range management activities should not detract from aesthetic values of rangelands and may often enhance them.
- Recreational Use of Rangelands: Rangeland provide recreational opportunities. The Society supports development of recreational opportunities, as appropriate, in range management planning, providing that such use is compatible with other rangeland resource values.
Desertification is a permanent or semi-permanent reduction in the capability of land for biological productivity. Over long periods of time, desertification may result from change to a more arid climate. Desertification also occurs because of irreversible reduction in the ability of the soil to supply moisture and/or nutrients to vegetation. On rangelands, soil erosion by wind or water is the most common cause for loss of soil productivity, although permanent degradation of soil structure, nutrient loss, or salinization are other possible causes. Permanent loss of soil productivity may result from natural processes or human activity.
The Society for Range Management advocates use and management of rangelands to provide sustainable benefits for people. Rangeland management should aim to prevent desertification resulting from human activity and, where feasible, to stabilize or improve productivity of lands which have already suffered such desertification. Rangeland managers should seek to identify and understand desertification processes resulting from all causes, and if possible, to mitigate adverse impacts of such processes.
A continuing need exists for people formally educated in range management to play a major role in decisions regarding the management of rangelands. The Society promotes education providing expertise in the climate-soil-plant-animal complex in relation to human needs and uses of the resources.
The Society promotes international development and dissemination of range management knowledge and sound management of rangelands worldwide. The Society maintains liaison with relevant professional organizations around the world.
Maintaining and Improving Environmental Quality
Range management programs must consider possible effects on environmental quality. The Society advocates measures which enhance beneficial effects and minimize detrimental effects consistent with reasonable and prudent use of the rangelands resources.
The Society promotes the use of valid resource inventories as basic requirements for planning and management of rangeland resources.
Research Needs Funding and Implementation
The Society for Range Management recognizes the need for adequate and sustained public and private support of rangeland research programs. Funding is also needed for prompt synthesis, dissemination and implementation of research results to serve the growing needs of managers with diverse objectives in diverse rangeland ecosystems.
The Society supports strong programs based on long-term planning in both basic and applied rangeland research and prompt dissemination of results.