Community participation in decisionmaking and management, along with public policy, can be a favorable and critical issue in implementing some adaptation options. This could result in better management of rangelands (Pringle, 1995; Allen-Diaz, 1996; Thwaites et al., 1998), thereby probably meeting conservation objectives (Pringle, 1995). Decisions to be made might include:
In dealing with options for reducing the consequences of land degradation in the future, public policy may have a crucial role (Hess and Holechek, 1995), especially because decisions at the landscape level (which are likely to include many different land tenures) are going to be increasingly important. Policies could be developed to address multiple pressures and, over the long term, to encompass sustainable land management and could include investments by governments to improve rangeland status (Morton et al., 1995; Pickup, 1998).
For the future of rangelands, it is important to reduce the vulnerability of these systems to climate change. This is likely to be achieved by considering social and economic factors that determine land use by human populations (Allen-Diaz, 1996). Soil stability and thus maintenance of water and nutrient cycles are essential in reducing the risk of desertification. Any changes in these processes could make rangelands particularly vulnerable to climate change. Land degradation is a nonlinear process with thresholds that make these systems sensitive and vulnerable (Puigdefabregas, 1998). Prevention of land degradation might be a cheaper option than restoration, which can be costly (Puigdefabregas, 1998). Some studies suggest that changes in rainfall pattern may make some vegetation types within rangelands more vulnerable (e.g., Miombo woodlandsFuller and Prince, 1996) if growing periods could not shift or if these growing periods coincide with insect outbreak.
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