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Exploring India's Rangelands: Diversity and Challenges



  May 06, 2024

Rangelands in India



In India, rangelands are defined as extensive areas of grasslands, shrublands, and open forests that are naturally suited for grazing by livestock. These lands typically receive less rainfall than cultivated areas and are not considered viable for growing crops.

Here's a breakdown of key characteristics of rangelands in India:

Vegetation: Predominantly grasses and shrubs, with variations depending on rainfall and soil conditions. Some common examples include Dichanthium annulatum (gamhar), Cenchrus ciliaris (buffel grass), and Ziziphus nummularia (ber). Trees may be scattered or absent.

Climate: Semi-arid to arid, with seasonal variations in rainfall. Droughts are a common challenge.

Soil: Often thin and less fertile compared to agricultural lands.

Land Use: Primarily used for grazing by domestic animals like cattle, sheep, and goats. Some rangelands may also support wildlife herbivores.

Importance of Rangelands in India:

Livestock Production: Rangelands play a vital role in supporting India's large livestock population, providing essential grazing land.

Ecological Services: These lands help prevent soil erosion, regulate water flow, and store carbon. They are also home to unique biodiversity.

Livelihoods: Millions of people in India depend on rangelands for their livelihoods, either directly through pastoralism (raising livestock) or indirectly through related activities like dairy production and wool production.

Challenges Facing Rangelands in India:

Overgrazing: Excessive grazing by livestock can degrade rangelands, leading to soil erosion, depletion of vegetation, and decreased productivity.

Climate Change: Changes in rainfall patterns and increasing temperatures can negatively impact rangeland health.

Encroachment: Conversion of rangelands to agriculture or other uses can reduce the available area for grazing.

Efforts to Manage Rangelands:

Rotational Grazing: Techniques that allow for controlled grazing periods and recovery time for vegetation.

Reseeding: Reintroducing native grasses and shrubs to improve the quality of rangelands.

Community-Based Management: Involving local communities in the management of rangelands to ensure sustainable use.

Understanding the importance of rangelands and implementing effective management practices is crucial for ensuring the well-being of these vital ecosystems and the livelihoods they support in India.



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