Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.


June 6 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


The UN Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD) recently released a report on rangelands and pastoralists, highlighting the need for better recognition of pastoralists’ rights and improved market access. This report provides significant insights into the current state of rangelands and pastoralist communities globally and in India. 

Key Findings of the UNCCD Report 

State of Rangelands 

  • Global Coverage: Rangelands cover 80 million square kilometers, constituting 54% of the Earth’s surface, making them the largest land cover/use type in the world. 

Drylands and Protected Areas: 

  • 78% of rangelands are in drylands, mostly in tropical and temperate regions. 
  • Only 12% of rangelands are protected worldwide. 


  • 40-45% of rangelands are degraded, threatening one-sixth of the world’s food supply and one-third of the planet’s carbon reservoir. 

Food and Feed Production: 

  • Rangelands generate 16% of global food production. 
  • They provide 70% of feed for domesticated herbivores, particularly in Africa and South America. 
  • Degradation Causes: Climate change, population growth, land-use change, and expanding farmlands are key factors in rangeland degradation. 

India’s Rangelands: 

  • Rangelands in India cover about 1.21 million square kilometers, from the Thar Desert to Himalayan meadows. 
  • Less than 5% of India’s grasslands are protected. 
  • The grassland area declined from 18 million hectares to 12 million hectares between 2005 and 2015. 
  • Grazing areas constitute around 40% of India’s total land surface. 


State of Pastoralists and Economic Contributions in India 

Global and National Numbers: 

  • Globally, 500 million pastoralists are involved in livestock production and allied occupations. 
  • India is home to approximately 13 million pastoralists spread across 46 groups, such as the Gujjars, Bakarwals, Rebaris, Raikas, Kurubas, and Maldharis. 

Livestock Population: 

  • India holds 20% of the world’s livestock population. 
  • Approximately 77% of these animals are raised in pastoralist systems. 

Economic Contributions: 

  • Pastoralists contribute significantly to livestock rearing and milk production. 
  • The livestock sector contributes 4% to the national GDP and 26% to the agricultural GDP. 

Legal Support:  

  • Laws like the Forest Rights Act of 2006 have helped pastoralists secure grazing rights in various states. 
  • Example: Van Gujjars obtained grazing rights and land titles in Rajaji National Park, Uttarakhand, following a High Court judgment. 

Production Leadership: 

  • India is the world’s largest producer of milk, contributing 23% of global dairy production. 
  • India is a leading producer of buffalo meat and the top exporter of sheep and goat meat. 
  • Pastoralists play a crucial role in these sectors. 

What is Pastoralism? 

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), pastoralism is a livelihood system centered on livestock production, which includes activities such as rearing, dairy farming, meat production, wool production, and leather production. 


  • Mobility: Pastoralists move with their herds to access seasonal pastures and water sources, helping manage grazing resources and prevent overgrazing. 
  • Example: Bedouin tribes in the Arab region move with their herds in search of water and green pastures. 
  • Animal Husbandry: Central to pastoralist life, involving the breeding, feeding, and protection of livestock from predators and diseases. 
  • Cultural Practices: Rich traditions, including specific social structures, rituals, and knowledge systems related to animal husbandry and the environment. 
  • Economic Systems: Livestock provides food (meat, milk), materials (wool, hides), and trade goods. Some communities also engage in trade or supplementary farming. 
  • Adaptation to Environment: Traditional ecological knowledge guides decisions about movement and resource use, tailored to their environments. 

Examples of Pastoralist Communities 

  • India: Gujjars, Raikas/Rebaris, Gaddis, Bakarwals, Maldharis, Dhangars. 
  • East Africa: Maasai, known for cattle herding in Kenya and Tanzania. 
  • Mongolia: Nomads herding horses, sheep, goats, camels, and yaks across the steppes. 
  • Northern Europe: Sami, involved in reindeer herding across Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. 

Issues Faced by Pastoralists in India 

  • Non-Recognition of Land Rights: Many pastoral communities use common grazing lands traditionally but lack clear ownership or official recognition, making access and defense difficult. 
  • Population Growth and Land Fragmentation: Growing population pressures convert grazing lands to agriculture or development, disrupting traditional migration routes and reducing food for livestock. 
  • Livelihood Threats: Limited access to grazing lands and competition from commercial farms, coupled with volatile market prices for livestock products, impact pastoralists’ earnings. 
  • Sedentarization Policies: Government policies encouraging settlement can disrupt traditional migratory patterns and reduce livestock management efficiency. 
  • Lack of Veterinary Care: Nomadic pastoralists often have limited access to veterinary care and essential medicines, leading to livestock diseases and deaths. 
  • Dependence on Middlemen: Limited direct market access forces pastoralists to rely on middlemen, who may offer low prices, reducing pastoralists’ profits. 

Key Recommendations of the UNCCD Report 

  • Climate-Smart Management: Integrate climate change strategies into rangeland management to enhance carbon storage and resilience against future challenges. 
  • Protect Rangelands: Prevent the conversion of rangelands to other uses, especially those managed by indigenous communities, to preserve biodiversity. 
  • Conservation through Use: Develop practices to conserve rangelands inside and outside protected areas, benefiting both the land and dependent animals, leading to healthier livestock production. 
  • Pastoralism-Based Solutions: Support traditional grazing practices and new strategies to minimize rangeland damage from climate change, overgrazing, and other threats. 
  • Collaborative Management: Create flexible management systems and policies involving all stakeholders, empowering local communities and ensuring rangelands continue to benefit society. 


The UNCCD report highlights the crucial role of rangelands and pastoralists in global food production, economic contribution, and cultural heritage.By addressing the challenges faced by pastoralists and promoting collaborative and climate-smart management strategies, we can ensure the sustainability and productivity of rangelands for future generations. 

Mains Question: 

  1. Discuss the significance of rangelands and pastoralism in India’s economy and environment, and critically analyze the challenges faced by pastoralist communities along with possible solutions as highlighted by the recent UNCCD report. (150 WORDS)


June 6
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category:
error: Content is protected !!