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How are rangelands best managed?

GLF Live with Fiona Flintan, Patrick Augenstein and Ken Otieno

Rangelands are some of the most fascinating landscapes, covering more than half of the world’s terrestrial area. They’re also some of the most difficult to manage. The panoply of different communities who inhabit rangelands, from sedentary farmers to migratory pastoralists, must find ways to share the land’s food and water resources and, in the face of climate change and development interventions, traditional systems of doing so are having to be reassessed.

But the evolution of rangeland management in a way that is sustainable and equitable hinges on its core users being the architects of new plans rather than top-down legislation. Involving local communities in mapping projects, tenure and overall decision-making on rangelands – a process known as “participatory rangelands management” (PRM) – is critical for avoiding human conflict and ensuring fair access to resources.

So how is this best done? A new documentary film, Regenerating Rangelands, looks at examples of how PRM has improved the use of rangelands in Kenya and Tanzania, and how these stories can be amplified in rangelands elsewhere across the world. In honor of 2021’s World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, this GLF Live featured the premiere of the documentary, followed by a discussion between filmmaker Patrick Augenstein, Fiona Flintan of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Ken Otieno of the Resource Conflict Institute RECONCILE as Eastern African Focal Point in the Coalition of European Lobbies for Eastern African Pastoralism (CELEP).

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Fiona Flintan specializes in natural resource management and land governance and tenure, participatory land use planning, pastoralism, participatory rangeland management (PRM), gender and conflict resolution and/or transformation. She has spent many years working in East Africa, particularly Ethiopia and Tanzania. Currently Fiona is based in Rome working with IFAD as part of a collaborative agreement, working on raising global awareness and action on rangelands amongst global actors. This includes participating in preparations for the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, in the call for an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists (IYRP) and being an active participant and supporter of the Global Landscapes Forum. For several years she coordinated the global Rangelands Initiative of the International Land Coalition, and still plays an active role in this.

Patrick T. Augenstein is a filmmaker and scientist, focusing on researching and communicating the lessons of ecosystem restoration for more than a decade. Numerous of his films on ecosystem restoration were nominated and won at international film festivals. He has worked in more than 25 countries with distinct socio-ecological settings across the globe. Together with UNCCD, UNEP, ILRI and IUCN, among other multinational organizations, he has produced and directed films like: Miyun – Watershed Restoration for China’s Capital (2013), The Promise of the Commons (2014), Forest for the Future (2015), The re-discovery of humanity – ecosystem restoration & migration (2016), When the skies ran dry (2018), The End of Famine (2019), and Rethinking Rangelands (2021). Currently, he is a senior scientist at the Development Geography Department at Bonn University, Germany, contributing to the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Center (228) “Future Rural Africa”. He obtained a PhD at the artec – Sustainability Research Center of Bremen University, Germany. He is the founder of SEE-International, a multi-media production house with special focus on all topics surrounding ecosystem restoration.

Ken Otieno is the executive director at the Resource Conflict Institute (RECONCILE). He also serves as technical coordinator of Rangelands Initiative Africa, a global program of the International Land Coalition (ILC) and regional focal point for the Coalition of European Lobbies for Eastern African Pastoralism (CELEP). He is a social scientist with over 14 years of work with national and international organizations.

This film being screened in this GLF Live is an output of the Piloting of Participatory Rangeland Management Project supported by the EU, and being implemented in Kenya and Tanzania through the International Land Coalition (ILC) by partners RECONCILE, Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF), VSF Belgium, and ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute). The project is working with government and local communities to test out PRM application in the local context, drawing from the experiences of PRM in Ethiopia where the process was first developed: for a review of PRM in Ethiopia please see here. PRM is a process supporting inclusive community mobilization and capacity building for improved management and governance of rangelands, working through three stages – Investigation, Planning, Implementation. Activities include participatory mapping, baseline/monitoring system set-up, development of a rangeland management plan and agreement strengthening rights to resources. See here.


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