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New revenue possible from grass - Rangelands report

Agriculture.com Staff 10/25/2011 @ 1:27pm

Ranchers soon may be able to secure alternative revenue sources from rangelands by preserving the ecoysystem, according to a new report in the scientific journal, Rangelands.

The Millennium Ecosystem Report concluded that rangelands are being degraded and managed in unstainable ways. Ranchers in many cases are facing new challenges from rising productions costs and new regulations.

But new options for ranchers to maintain their resources are possible through a variety of services: payment for ecosystem services, market-based approaches to climate change mitigation, and carbon offsets, according to the series of articles in Rangelands.

"Increased plant production and biological sequestration can increase carbon uptake, mitigating climate change. This can be accomplished by sustaining ranchlands against land conversion and promoting good land management," according to a press release by the publisher. "A carbon market could compensate ranchers for managing their lands in ways that sequester carbon and offset the emission of greenhouse gases in other places."

A case study in the report of the 52,000-acre Trigg Ranch in New Mexico demonstrates carbon sequestration, in which the family participated in the 2008 Chicago Climate Exchange program. The Trigg family earned $90,000 by selling the carbon credits they generated to a Texas corporation.

"The path of the Trigg Ranch illustrates how landowners might transition to carbon-oriented grazing management," according to the report. "The family has re-created their ranch as an enterprise that emphasizes continuity and sustainability rather than short-term profits."

Full text of “Rangelands and Ecosystem Services: Economic Wealth From Land Health?” and other articles in this issue of Rangelands, Vol. 33, No. 5, October 2011, are available at http://www.srmjournals.org/toc/rala/33/5

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