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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Challenges for grassland science: managing research priorities
Year: 2005
Author(s): Lemaire, G., Wilkins, R., Hodgson, J.
Source Title: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment
Source Type: Journal
pages: 99-108
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: Production-oriented research in the second half of the 20th century made impressive contributions to technical developments which helped to meet the food requirements of an expanding world population. These developments involved increasing specialisation in land use and in food production techniques, with progressive separation between food crop production and animal production. It is now recognised that these developments have contributed to serious long-term effects on the stability of the world’s land and water resources, and on environmental hazards. Grasslands are particularly important in this spectrum of issues, in view of their dominant contribution to land use in many parts of the world, and because they occupy the nexus between the production functions and the environmental impacts of land use strategy, with implications for resource stability, biodiversity and global change. Also, they are an essential component of integrated land use systems which incorporate flexible combinations of cropping, pasture and forestry. This paper argues the need for a re-appraisal of prioritisation and funding in research on issues of land use strategy in general, and on issues of integrated land use and grassland management in particular. There is a need to provide a stronger base for genuine inter-disciplinary research, with the emphasis on integrated land use programmes and effective coordination of production and conservation oriented objectives, and greater emphasis on a coordinated programme of large-scale, long-term, integrated land use research projects on a national or, preferably, a regional basis. Improved linkages between national and international research programmes, and closer coordination of interests between the professional bodies representing particular land use interests, are likely to be required for the effective execution and delivery of such programmes. Achievement of these objectives will require a re-evaluation of conventional research and tertiary education priorities, to encourage both a broader vision and a more informed and flexible attitude to land use issues.