Cattle as partners in conservation: collaborative management of public lands

Monlezun, Anna Clare, author
Lynn, Stacy, author
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Could conceptualizing cattle as partners in conservation be a win-win for the livestock and rangeland conservation sectors, resolving the [often] paradoxical objectives of food production and natural resource management? To learn more about the collaborative grazing management that occurs across much of Colorado's rangelands, we are conducting an investigation of partnerships between private ranchers and government-owned land managers along the Front Range. Our research process addresses the sustainability of these rangelands as complex social-ecological systems where livestock production and natural resource conservation are woven together in a tapestry of management, culture, and science. Recent literature indicates that scientific research engaging the ecological, economic and social elements of grazing management is lacking. Therefore, our study reflects a holistic model evaluating these three components of sustainability (ecological, economic, and social) to answer our overarching question: Can strategic grazing partnerships on multi-use government-owned landscapes achieve the dual goals of assisting land management agencies with natural resource conservation, and ranchers with maintaining sustainable beef production? We are exploring multiple themes in alignment with the three components of sustainability: soil health, plant biodiversity, forage nutritive quality, ecosystem services, and socio-cultural values. System dynamics modeling will be used to examine relationships and interactions among these themes within and across our study sites. System dynamics modeling will allow us to apply qualitative and quantitative context-specific variables to generate and visualize management alternatives that will ultimately aid in adaptive and integrated decision-making. Our intention is to produce results that are meaningful to stakeholders, solution-focused, and application-oriented.
Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability.
Natural Resources Ecology Lab.
Warner College of Natural Resources.
Includes bibliographical references.
2020 Fall.
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