Rangelands are important natural resources for the nations with a various measurable and immeasurable outputs such as forage for farm animals, biological diversity, soil and water conservation and ecosystem functions. However, unconscious exploitation has resulted in weakening, deterioration and exhaustion of these natural resources in time. In achieving an effective, sustainable use at a minimum environmental cost without foregoing economic and social development, policy measures towards conscious utilization, conservation and restoration of these resources are of vital importance. Furthermore, user-friendly, robust policy measures require correct scientific information on the actual utilization of rangelands. The effects of various natural and human induced factors on the rangeland forage yield and its utilization rate were researched in this study. Data were collected from the rangelands of 11 villages in five districts of Erzurum province, Turkey. Descriptive statistics and mixed effect panel regression models were used in data analysis. According to the results it was concluded that 1) because of heavy grazing pressure versus low forage production, high-altitude sites, east and southwest slopes should specifically be given the priority in rangeland rehabilitation studies, 2) drought resistant species should be preferred for the overseeding practices due to the xeric nature of southerly slopes, 3) to avoid excessive exploitation and to realize balanced utilization in all rangeland sites, grazing plans should be developed and strictly followed by each village authority, and 4) Heavy grazing pressure on rangelands gets even worse in drought seasons. Therefore, rangelands should be relatively lightly utilized in such seasons not to cause herbage yield losses and other unwanted outcomes in subsequent years.
Conscious utilization, Sustainable use, Natural and human induced factors, Mixed effect panel regression