Expert understandings on rangeland ecosystem services and their sustainable management (Atrak River Basin, NE Iran)

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant professor, Department of Rangeland Management, Faculty of Rangeland and Watershed Management, Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Golestan, Iran

2 M.Sc. Department of Rangeland and Management, Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Golestan, Iran

3 Assistant professor, MTA Centre for Ecological Research, Traditional Ecological Knowledge Research Group, 2163 Vácrátót, GINOP Sustainable Ecosystems Group, 8237 Tihany, Klebelsberg Kuno u. 3., Hungary.


Over the last three centuries, worldwide improper utilization of rangelands has led to degradation of ecosystem services. Rangelands, like other natural resources used by humans, are embedded in complex socio-ecological systems. To determine how to better manage this important resource, we developed a rangeland ecosystem services model using the Driver-Pressure-State-Impacts–Response (DPSIR) conceptual model. The model was tested in a river basin in north-east of Iran. We asked 56 experts and 42 local land users on their perceptions of rangeland changes, causes of change, and possible actions to mitigate impacts using Delphi method, workshops, and questionnaires. A Multi-Criteria Decision Making method was used to evaluate the perceived interactions among the components of the DPSIR framework. Climate change and rangeland degradation were the most important pressures, leading to a decline in rangeland production, decreased vegetation cover, and land-use change. Experts and locals argued that forage and herbal species production, erosion control, and flood control were the most affected ecosystem services. They suggested the use of resistant plants, local training, and rangeland rest to manage these problems. The DPSIR framework was useful in developing a comprehensive insight for local people and managers on the social and ecological complexity of rangelands and the potential responses for coping with pressures


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