Uncertainty and sustainability in the management of rangelands

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


We analyze a dynamic and stochastic ecological-economic model of grazing management in semi-arid rangelands. The ecosystem is driven by stochastic precipitation. A risk averse farmer chooses a grazing management strategy under uncertainty such as to maximize expected utility from farming income. Grazing management strategies are rules about which share of the rangeland is given rest depending on the actual rainfall in that year. In a first step we determine a myopic farmer's optimal grazing management strategy and show that a risk averse farmer chooses a strategy such as to obtain insurance from the ecosystem: the optimal strategy reduces income variability, but yields less mean income than possible. In a second step we analyze the long-run ecological and economic impact of different strategies. We conclude that a myopic farmer, if he is sufficiently risk averse, will choose a sustainable grazing management strategy, even if he does not take into account long-term ecological and economic benefits of conservative strategies. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
ZeitschriftEcological Economics
Seiten (von - bis)251-266
Anzahl der Seiten16
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 20.04.2007

Bibliographische Notiz

Funding Information:
We thank Hans-Peter Weikard, Ralph Winkler, Christian Wissel, participants of the 8th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Ecological Economics (Montreal, June 2004) as well as the ESF-Workshop Ecological–economic modelling for biodiversity conservation (Leipzig, September 2004), and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful discussion and suggestions. Maximilian Mihm has helped improve language and style. Financial support from the Volkswagen Foundation under grant II/79 628 and from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is gratefully acknowledged.