The Rangelands Atlas published in May 2021 shows that 54 per cent of the world’s land surface consists of rangelands, but just 10 per cent of national climate plans (as part of the Paris Climate Agreement) include references to rangelands - compared to 70 per cent of those plans including references to forests.
Rangelands are vast tracts of land covered by grass, shrubs or sparse, hardy vegetation supporting millions of pastoralists, hunter gatherers, ranchers and large populations of wildlife; and they store large amounts of carbon.
The diversity and importance of rangeland environments is mirrored in the diversity of the report’s authors. They include experts from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Land Coalition (ILC), with contributions from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
This atlas catalogues the contemporary character of the world’s rangelands, which include the Mongolian steppe, the savannas of Africa, the pampas of South America and the Great Plains of North America. The goal is to make rangelands a prominent part of policy discussions around everything from confronting climate change to reducing poverty, managing threats to biodiversity and freshwater, and developing sustainable food systems.
The Rangelands Atlas consists of preliminary maps that are a starting point for gathering more detailed data on the exact ecosystem services and economic and social benefits that rangelands deliver to people and nature. It is available at www.rangelandsdata.org/atlas.