Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
require mediating action according to current
law (Hadrich and Wolf, 2010). This highlights
the need for community engagement between
farmers, ranchers and those not working in
agriculture to discuss appropriate agricultural
practices, environmental health and safety
provide beneficial habitat for a number of
endangered species including kangaroo rats,
squirrels and leopard lizards (Germano et al .,
2001). The checkerspot butterfly is another
species that can benefit from grazing livestock
systems. Evidence suggests that in systems
where grazing stopped the butterfly popula-
tions crashed, but were maintained in systems
with continued grazing (Weiss, 1999). Grazing
can also contribute positively to the preserva-
tion of vernal pools, seasonal ponds that
develop in some regions and are a breeding
ground for the endangered tiger salamander
(Pyke and Marty, 2005).
Managed livestock systems can also pro-
vide significant social-environmental bene-
fits through carbon management. Globally,
grasslands contain 20-25% of global terres-
trial carbon (Kimble et al ., 2001). In the USA,
there are 336 mha of grazing lands, 48% of
which are in rangelands. Grazing lands can
provide carbon storage in their soils, which
can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
As a result, preserving grazing lands and
maintaining well managed grazing systems
can be a strategy for providing the public with
reduced greenhouse gas emissions (Schuman
et al ., 2002).
As our knowledge of grazing systems
increases and more information has been made
available about the benefits of grazing practices,
policies to encourage the sustainable manage-
ment of grazing systems have increased.
Payment for ecosystem services involves pro-
viding incentives to farmers and ranchers to
manage their land in a way that provides envi-
ronmental benefits (and in turn social benefits
through land conservation, reduced pollutants
and increased biodiversity). Ecosystem services
payment can contribute significantly to sustain-
ability goals of incorporating the economic,
social and environmental components. Farmers
and ranchers can receive an economic incentive,
while the environment can be improved for the
benefit of society and wildlife.
There are many types of ecosystem service
payment programmes. Some ecosystem service
programmes are run through government pro-
grammes including the US-based Natural Re-
sources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the
Environmental Quality Incentives Program
(EQIP) implemented through the USDA. NRSC
Payment for ecosystem services
Pasture and rangelands are located in all
50 states in the USA with privately owned pas-
ture and rangelands making up more than 27%
of the total hectarage of the lower 48 states. As
a result, ranchers can be an important asset for
private land management and the provision of
ecosystem and social services. Ecosystem ser-
vices are defined as 'the benefits people obtain
from ecosystems'. These can include provisi-
oning services (i.e. food), regulating services
(i.e. flood regulation), supporting services (i.e. nut-
rient cycling) and cultural services (i.e. recrea-
tional) (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment,
2005). Payment to the agricultural community
for ecosystem services can supply new opportu-
nities for farmer and rancher income while
providing social and ecosystem benefits that
are highly valued (Kulshreshtha et al ., 2012).
Pasture and rangelands provide recreation
opportunities, scenic, cultural and historic val-
ues that improve social well-being and quality of
life (USDA NRCS, 2011). In many ways, grazing
lands and ranching can also provide significant
environmental benefits to the soil, biodiversity
and wildlife, and even reductions in global
greenhouse gas emissions.
Managed grazing can provide both bene-
fits and challenges to wildlife. Agriculture and
pasture conversion can be a significant cause of
habitat loss for numerous species (Javorek et al .,
2007). However, when well managed, agricul-
ture and grazing lands can also provide biodi-
versity benefits. Grazing can be beneficial for
biodiversity by minimizing non-native grasses
in an ecosystem and promoting habitat for
multiple species. Forbs, a native species of con-
cern in the Western USA, can have a higher
abundance in grazing lands than non-grazed
lands (Hayes and Holl, 2003). Grazing can also
have a significant impact on wildlife. By reduc-
ing exotic species and their density, grazing can
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