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Rangeland, Range Management and Importance of Rangelands

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What is a Rangeland? Define Range Management. Write the importance of Rangelands with special reference to Pakistan.

General Considerations:

  • 1/10th of the total area of the world is arable
  • Rangelands occupy 1/5th of the total land area of the world
  • Rangelands thus occupy about 40–50 percent of the land area of the Earth.
  • In Pakistan 60% area of land is range land.


The areas of the world which due to:

  • Low precipitation
  • Roughly topography and Extreme temperature are not arable and able to sustain cultivation


Rangeland is an extensive area of land that is occupied by native herbaceous or shrubby vegetation which is grazed by domestic or wild herbivores.” OR;
Rangelands are those areas of the world which by reason of Physical limitations (low and erratic precipitation, rough topography, poor drainage, extreme temperature) are unsuited to cultivation and which are a source of forage for free-ranging natives and domestic animals as well as a source of wood products, water and wildlife.”

Range Management:

It is science and arts of optimizing the returns from rangelands in those combinations as desired by and suited to society through the manipulation of range ecosystem.

Importance of Rangelands:

About 60% of the total area of Pakistan is range land as Pakistan has arid and semiarid conditions with low rainfall, rough topography, and extreme temperature. However, a number of benefits adding to the GDP of the country are directly or indirectly dependent upon rangelands. Therefore, it is advisable to outline these benefits associated with rangelands:

  1. Rangelands have an area of 47% of the world; while croplands occupy 18%, forest lands 28% and ice-covered areas are 15%.
  2. In Pakistan, rangelands range from 60 – 70% extending form Alpine region to deserts and to South Arabian Sea. The rangelands of alpine, sub-alpine and temperate areas are very productive but those of southern regions are less productive. However, their distribution is given as follows:

Distribution of Rangelands in Pakistan

Province/ State Total land
Million/ ha
Rangeland area % of the total land area
1. Balochistan 34.72 32.43 93
2. NWFP 10.17 5.68 5.6
3. Punjab 20.63 9.70 4.7
4. Sind 14.09 9.28 60
5. Northern Areas 7.04 3.5 30
6. A.K. 1.33 0.64 41
Total 87.98 61.23 70%


About 6 million hectares are under the control of the forest department.

  1. Erosion Control in an uncompensatable benefit associated with rangelands:
    • 40% of Terbella and Mangla catchment area are rangeland.
    • Sedimentation, much heavy, loss of expenditure and less storage of water for regular supply for agriculture.
    • Low generation of electricity affecting domestic, commercial and industrial uses.
  2. Livestock sharing 9% of GDP

No of Livestock in Pakistan

Table showing no of livestock in Pakistan: (the year 2004 – 05)

S/No Kind Heads/ Nos. (millions)
1. Buffalos 26.3
2. Cattle 24.2
3. Goats 56.7
4. Sheep 24.9
5. Camels 0.7
6. Asses 0.3
7. Mules 0.3
Total 133.4

Source: Livestock Division

  • 60% of sheep and goats feed on rangelands
  • 40% of camels, asses, horses feed on ranges
  • 5% of cattle feed on rangelands.
  1. Animal dung compensating 18% of fuelwood consumption.
  2. Meat, Milk production, and Food:
  • Meat =          2, 94, 72000   tons
  • Milk =          22, 7100          tons
  • Food =          40, 000            tons

7. A habitat of Wildlife, and source of tourism and eco-tourism.

Livestock Population over time: (thousand heads)

Animals 1976 Census 1986 Census
Cattle 15255 18016
Buffaloes 10911 15958
Sheep 19037 23645
Goats 22393 30662
Camels 789 958
Horses 439 393
Mules 61 70
Asses 2157 3079
Total 71042 92764

About 2/3 of the range area has been classified and 92-93 million livestock obtains food from range area (and else) of the above-listed animals, it has been calculated that about 60% of the plant feed is usurped by goats and sheep. Akinly, 50% by camels and horses white cattle and buffaloes eat out 5%.
Since the rangelands of the country are supporting such a large no of the population of livestock are meting (giving) out sufficient meat for such populations, they are worth caring and managing on their respective.

  • The livestock sector contributes 9% to GDP (1983 data). If we assume that 1.2 to the livestock is diminished the product goes to 4.5% of the rangelands. The range areas of Pakistan are always ill-targeted, we consider it as half.
  • Moreover, the people rear the animals for different purposes such as transportation and plowing. They are also a source of milk, meat, hides (and hence economic). They are still providing fuelwood and indirectly the water of costly dams.

It has been estimated that this loss can be compensated and even doubles if manages properly.

  • The situation of our dams is quite critical as the multipurpose dams, such as Mangla and Tarbela are being silted up as:
    Mangla = 48000 acres/ ft

Tarbela = 100,000 acres/ft

  • Recommended optimum level of proteins in the human diet is 68.5 gm/day/individual, (human consumption). In Pakistan, it is 45.8 gm/day/person. At least half of the proteins should be from animals resources and protein consumption form animals (including poultry) in 1989, was about 32 gm. Thus the population faces a protein deficiency which can be made up by the management of our rangelands.
  • Animal dung contributes about 18% of the fuel requirement of country 34% of the household in Sialkot, Kohat, Rawalpindi and Khoshab districts. Animals use the rangelands and fulfill their requirements. _ (1989, Economic Survey of Pakistan)
  • Rangelands share their potential about half of Social Economic Development of the rural population. Despite the absence of management, they fulfill 50% needs.

Image: Aamach District Mastung Balochistan | Captured by Author

For correction and improvements please use the comments section below.

Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani is working as Conservator of Forests in Balochistan Forest & Wildlife Department (BFWD). He is the CEO of Tech Urdu ( Forestrypedia (, All Pak Notifications (, Essayspedia, etc & their YouTube Channels). He is an Environmentalist, Blogger, YouTuber, Developer & Vlogger.

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