Title: Effects of different grazing systems on ecosystem functions in Lesotho and Iceland

Final project
Year of publication:
Document URL: Link
Supervisors: Isabel C Barrio


Excessive livestock grazing has caused extensive land degradation and soil erosion, thereby threatening people’s livelihoods. Increased grazing pressure on communal rangelands in Lesotho and Iceland has led to massive amounts of soil being eroded each year causing a tremendous loss in biological diversity and ecosystem goods and services. In response to the above-mentioned effects of unsustainable rangeland management practices, a study on the effects of different grazing systems on ecosystem functions in Lesotho and Iceland was carried out. The two main objectives of the study were to assess the impacts of different grazing systems on Lesotho’s rangeland ecosystem functions. Secondly, the study aimed at comparing the similarities or differences on effects of a similar grazing system, seasonal grazing, in the two countries. In addition, this study was aimed at determining and providing guidelines for sustainable rangeland management with grazing systems that are compatible for maintaining and improving rangeland health conditions, sustaining productivity and improving the economy of the countries and the livelihoods of present and future generations.

The study was carried out by investigating types of grazing systems practiced in Lesotho and their impacts on rangeland health, looking at their effects on rangeland site stability, plant species diversity and rangeland productivity.

The results from the two countries coincide with the fact that both countries are experiencing severe rangeland degradation mainly due to poor grazing management. The study concluded that grazing management systems such as rest rotational grazing, deferred grazing and modified seasonal rotational grazing could be suitable for both Lesotho and Iceland for maintaining, conserving and improving rangeland conditions and in enhancing functional ecological processes.

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