RANGELANDS (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     23rd May 2024        
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Context: About half of the world’s rangelands are degraded and need policy interventions, and communities depending on them need focused support, according to a new report of the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD).


Rangelands

  • About: These are natural or semi-natural ecosystems grazed by livestock or wild animals.
  • Types of Vegetation: Rangelands contain vegetation such as grasses, shrubs, bushes, open forests, and agroforestry systems (land which contains trees and crops or pastures).
  • Climate Impact on Vegetation: The exact nature of rangelands’ vegetation is influenced by rainfall, temperature, and other climate phenomena, as noted by the Rangeland Atlas.
  • Global Coverage: Rangelands currently cover 80 million sq km of Earth’s terrestrial surface area, making them the largest land cover or land use type in the world.
  • Environmental Benefits
  • Carbon Sinks: They act as carbon sinks, absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere than they release.

o Rangelands serve as storehouses of freshwater.

o They prevent the desertification of land.

  • Global Food Contribution: Rangelands generate 16% of global food production.

o They provide 70% of feed for domesticated herbivores, especially in Africa and South America.

  • Indian Rangelands: In India, rangelands occupy about 1.21 million sq km, stretching from the Thar Desert to Himalayan meadows, according to the UNCCD report.
  • UNCCD Report: The UNCCD report found that nearly 50% of the world’s rangelands can be considered “degraded” and are facing a “silent demise”.
  • Pastoralists: Pastoralism is a livelihood system based on livestock production, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This includes livestock rearing, dairy production, meat production, wool production, and leather production.

o India is home to 20% of the world’s livestock population. Around 77% of these animals are reared in pastoralist systems, meaning they are either herded or left to range on common lands.

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