International Symposium on
Drylands Ecology and Human Security

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Other Sources of Livelihood Are Needed to Maintain the Requirements of the Pastoralists in Dry Lands in Order to Restore the Rangelands

Hossein Badripour

Range Expert at the Technical Bureau of Rangelands
Forest, Rangelands and Watershed Management Organization of Iran, Tehran, Iran
Tel: +98 21 88 95 19 45-6, Fax: +98 21 88 95 19 44


Drylands cover one third of the land surface of the world and are home to approximately two billion people worldwide. Dryland ecosystems, although providing a wide array of goods and services, are not always recognized as fully as other terrestrial ecosystems on the planet.
Extensive livestock husbandry is the main exploitation type of these lands while 88% of the drylands are covered by rangelands. Since livestock is the major user of primary production in the semi arid and arid regions, degradation has always been attributed to this subsector (Sidahmed and Yazman, 1994). According to the World Resources Institute (WRI, 1992) “overgrazing is the most pervasive cause of soil degradation. In Africa and Australia, overgrazing causes 49 and 80 percent, respectively, of soil degradation, mainly in semi- arid and arid regions”.
Needless to say that, rangelands had been sustainably used worldwide before the rapid growth of human population, and thus their increasing needs, from 1950s. In 1931, the human and livestock population of Iran were respectively 11.1 and 26.7 million heads while they rose to 61.6 and 81 million heads respectively in 2001.
Since, most of pastoralist had no other way to earn their livelihood except grazing livestock, thus they were to increase the number of their livestock to first maintain their own requirements and then earn more money through the available market. But after sometime the rangelands were overgrazed by the excess number of livestock and degraded and poorer year by year in a way that most of the pastoralists live at a subsistence level which is below the poor line in most drylands.
Now that the rangelands are degraded and no more profit is foreseen for the poor pastoralists, some other opportunities i.e. bee keeping, cash crops, herbal plants collection, etc should be developed and promoted among the pastoralists in the drylands to make them less dependant upon rangelands thus create an opportunity to rest a bit and rehabilitate.