Despite some promising initiatives to apply the landscape approach to a diversity of ecosystem types and an agenda that is gradually becoming more inclusive, until now, landscape approaches have focused primarily on, and have developed the bulk of their experience in, forest and agroforestry ecosystems.
Pastoralist rangeland landscapes, on the other hand, have their own distinctive social and biophysical characteristics. The mobility of livestock keepers with their herds, for example, is both an adaptation of human communities to their environment and a fundamental aspect of ecosystem dynamics. To be successful, landscape approaches must build on people’s livelihoods, cultures and aspirations, and in pastoralist rangelands this suggests that the lynchpin of thinking should not be trees or even grass, but rather livestock. Misconceptions abound around the role and impact of livestock in rangeland ecosystems and pastoralist livelihoods and culture. A better appreciation of livestock will help stakeholders who wish to promote sustainable landscapes to understand how they can build on pastoralist livelihoods and social structures. Drawing on years of experience working in pastoralist rangelands, this talk will share insights on the unique characteristics of these landscapes. It will point out ways in which livestock must be at the center of thinking in landscape approaches in rangelands.