The session introduces the new global Rangelands Atlas. To scale up dryland restoration and rehabilitation, science-based maps and data are essential. The Atlas includes a series of 16 sets of maps demonstrating how much of rangelands is key biodiversity or protected area, where threatened species are located, and what climate change impacts are predicted over the coming years. This is first of its kind of data. The maps show African countries that are at risk from climate change and where urgent action is required. Rangelands have rarely featured on international agendas. Just 10 percent of national climate plans (as part of the Paris Climate Agreement) include references to rangelands; comparatively 70 percent include references to forests. Although rangelands are known to play a key role in storing carbon, providing habitats for diverse wildlife and nature, and supporting the world’s largest rivers and wetlands, part of the reason they have been undervalued is the lack of definitive data on their extent and value. 54 percent of the world’s terrestrial surface consists of rangelands, which are home to some of the earth’s most precious habitats and support the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people. This new data can equip policymakers to better manage rangelands, with major benefits for pastoralists, nature, and climate. Panelists discuss how rangeland restoration and improvement of data on rangelands must be made priorities in UN conventions and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, if drylands and dryland communities are to strengthen their resilience to climate change and other stresses and shocks.
Rangelands Atlas: Bringing an Essential, Globally Neglected Ecosystem into Focus