Rangeland covers half of the land worldwide, and is largely used for livestock grazing because of its vegetation cover and soil characteristics. In addition, grasslands represent more than one-fourth of the world’s terrestrial surface, making the livestock sector the largest user of agricultural land. Implementing better management strategies tending to improve production efficiency of grazing livestock could therefore have an important impact on the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity arising from agriculture.
After the Livestock Research Group Meeting in Punta del Este, Uruguay (November 2012), some countries agreed to investigate the potential to join past and present research efforts on this topic of identifying research needs and knowledge gaps. The establishment of a Grasslands Research Network was then agreed at the following Livestock Research Group annual meeting in Dublin, where a scoping workshop was held on June 27th, 2013, involving 24 experts from 13 countries.
The main focus of this Network involving Rangelands and Pastures was defined at the workshop, according to the following objectives:
- Establish best management practices related to C sequestration (GHG removals) at the farm level and potential of C sink in different farming systems
- Improve understanding of the implications of soil carbon losses and degradation (the synergies between adaptation and mitigation)
- Identify knowledge gaps and opportunities for research collaboration and dissemination between grasslands systems and rangelands systems.
The recently formed Grasslands Network aims to build capacities on a topic of significant interest to developing country regions, playing an important role in the range of activities pursued by the Livestock Research Group. Collaboration with other research groups and partner initiatives are being explored, given the significant synergies between the goals of the network with organisations such as the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Global Agenda of Action established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and the modelling activities developed by the former Soil C/N Cycling Cross Cutting Group of the Alliance.