Proceedings foreword: The notion of “overgrazing” has often been used as a convenient scapegoat to support agricultural policies and to sedentarise mobile populations. Moreover, it is falsely assumed that livestock are a major cause of land degradation. Efforts have been made to debunk these negative perceptions of mobile pastoralism with mixed results and several decades of interdisciplinary scientific research has supported that transhumant and mobile pastoral systems are an appropriate strategy for the sustainable management of dryland ecosystems. Nonetheless, misperceptions about the value, efficiency and potential of pastoralism are pervasive and still endure.
Mobile pastoralism is quickly emerging as an urgent development issue throughout the world’s drylands. The failure of other production systems in dry areas, the revival of transhumance in some parts of Europe, and the steady increase in the severity of land degradation in many parts of the world have all been powerful forces in bringing renewed interest to pastoralism within the context of drylands development.
Over the last year and a half, the Global Pastoralism Programme has been gathering momentum in order to formulate a project that adequately addresses pastoral issues and to support the needs of pastoralists. Although it is reassuring to see that key ideas from a challenge paper have grown into a wider programme for concrete actions, this initiative is still in its infancy and much work and fine-tuning needs to be done.
Nonetheless, the global formulation workshop, held in Nairobi, Kenya from the 19-23 April was the first step in achieving a vision of sustainable pastoral land management.