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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Wilder rangelands as a natural climate opportunity: Linking climate action to biodiversity conservation and social transformation

Simba, Lavhelesani D.; te Beest, Mariska; Hawkins, Heidi-Jayne; Larson, Keith W.; Palmer, Anthony R.; Sandstrom, Camilla; Smart, Kathleen G.; Kerley, Graham I. H.; Cromsigt, Joris P. G. M.


Rangelands face threats from climate and land-use change, including inappropriate climate change mitigation initiatives such as tree planting in grassy ecosystems. The marginalization and impoverishment of rangeland communities and their indigenous knowledge systems, and the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, are additional major challenges. To address these issues, we propose the wilder rangelands integrated framework, co-developed by South African and European scientists from diverse disciplines, as an opportunity to address the climate, livelihood, and biodiversity challenges in the world's rangelands. More specifically, we present a Theory of Change to guide the design, monitoring, and evaluation of wilder rangelands. Through this, we aim to promote rangeland restoration, where local communities collaborate with regional and international actors to co-create new rangeland use models that simultaneously mitigate the impacts of climate change, restore biodiversity, and improve both ecosystem functioning and livelihoods.


Albedo; Biodiversity; Carbon sequestration; Methane; Natural disturbance; Nature-based solutions

Published in

AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
2024, Volume: 53, number: 5, pages: 678–696
Publisher: SPRINGER