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Rangelands, Science, and the Politics of Scale

Rangelands, Science, and the Politics of Scale

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction Rangelands, Science, and the Politics of Scale
Source:
The Politics of Scale
Author(s):
Nathan F. Sayre
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226083391.003.0001

Rangelands comprise between one-third and one-half of all the ice-free land on Earth, one-and-a-half times the area of all forests and two-and-a-half times greater than croplands. But rangelands and the science of rangelands have remained remarkably invisible to the general public and scholars alike. The introduction gives an overview of the history of efforts to understand rangelands scientifically, and it proposes an argument for the importance of rangelands that can also account for their obscurity. Rangelands are vast, sparsely inhabited, and relatively unproductive, qualities that have discouraged or made difficult sustained scholarly research and resulted in a generalized public indifference to these lands. And yet it is precisely rangelands’ manifold marginality that enables them to defy and disrupt social forces that elsewhere seem so powerful, and to thereby illuminate core tendencies, contradictions and limitations in modern ways of knowing, using and governing land and people.

Keywords:   rangelands, range science, Benjamin Alvord, Frederic Clements

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