The Present and the Future: How Iceland is Working Toward Evidence-Based Policymaking to Restore and Sustain Healthy Rangeland Ecosystems

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Bryndís Marteinsdóttir, Þórunn Wolfram Pétursdóttir

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For the last decades, ecosystem restoration of severely degraded rangelands and improved rangeland management have been official environmental and agricultural policy tasks of the Icelandic government. Several new agri-environmental programs and projects have been established since 1990, with the aim of maintaining and improving the ecological condition of rangeland ecosystem and to facilitate behavioural changes among sheep farmers to ensure sustainable rangeland management. Nevertheless, a recent study showed that these had not succeeded and that the current governance system for rangeland management was structurally limited, and not designed to maintain and improve the ecological condition of rangelands’ ecosystems. In 2017, a nationwide ecosystem condition monitoring program was established by the government and sheep farmers. The aim of the program is to generate data that can be used to secure sustainable land management. The monitoring process is multilevel with scientists, land users and public participating. The first results from this program were published in 2020. They indicated that only 26% of Iceland consists of productive and stable vegetation and soils, while around 62% of its surface is used for sheep grazing. The monitoring is expected to provide results that can be applied directly into evidence-based policymaking, securing that future land management will be based on ecosystem condition and ecological capacity. However, to facilitate that, the related social-ecological system (SES) needs to be strengthened. In this talk we will discuss the existing bottlenecks within the SES and potential leverages for strengthening the SES towards improved land management practices.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program