You are on page 1of 6

Mainstreaming Biodiversity Consideration into Junipers Forest Ecosystems DETERMINING CARRYING CAPACITY OF RANGELAND IN MALIKHAT, DISTRICT ZIARAT September

, 2011
Saadullah Ayaz1

Rangelands are specific ecosystems, with vegetation predominantly comprising of grassy or herbaceous type. Such ecosystems are found in geographic regions, which are characterized by low rainfall and variable climates which include; arid-semi arid and seasonally high rainfall areas. The precipitation in rangeland vegetation ranges from approximately 150 to 1500 mm (6–60 inches). Rangelands produce a wide variety of goods and services desired by society, including livestock forage, wildlife habitat, water, mineral resources, wood products, wild-land recreation, open space and natural beauty. The geographic extent and many important resources of rangelands make their proper use and management vitally important to people everywhere2. Livestock grazing is one of the most widespread and important uses of rangeland resources. Ruminant animals provide food and fiber from renewable plant resources3. Livestock is an essential asset to the rural poor local production for affordable nutrition. Balochistan province has a total area of 34 million ha of which only 4% (1.47 million hectares) is under cultivation while 60% of the cultivated area is rain-fed4. Approximately, 93 % of the land areas in Balochistan is characterized as rangelands. Rangelands are the major feed source of these animals and approximately 90% of total feed requirements of sheep and goats were being met from rangelands5, where livestock rearing is the main activity of the inhabitants. Sheep and goats are the main livestock of the province. About 87% of the people in Balochistan directly or indirectly drive their livelihood from livestock rearing6.

                                                             1  Coordinator Climate Change/Country Network Coordinator (Clean Air), IUCN Pakistan. 




 Khan, S.R. A. (1987). Rangelands in Pakistan. United States‐Pakistan Workshop on Arid lands Development and Desertification 
Control. PARC, Islamabad. 



 Report of the assistance to rangeland and livestock development survey in Balochistan. TCP/PAK 0107, FAO Technical 
cooperation program, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, Pakistan. 



 Evaluation of pasture conditions in Nichara Union Council in relation to conservation of water storage tanks. Studies 09/89. 
Pak‐German self help project for rural development. Balochistan, Quetta, Pakistan. 


Determining of Carrying Capacity of Malikhat Range, district Ziarat  


IUCN’s Juniper Project7 IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in collaborations with United Nations Development Programme and Pakistan Global Environment Facility (GEF) Secretariat is implementing project ‘Mainstreaming Biodiversity Conservation into the Juniper Forest Ecosystem Production Landscape’ in Ziarat valley, Balochistan (April 01, 2007 - March 31, 2012). The objective of the project is ‘to improve the condition of the Juniper forest ecosystem, in order to conserve biodiversity and increase the ecosystem`s contribution to sustainable development’. The goals of the project are to (i) make production activities in the Juniper forest ecosystem biodiversity friendly. (ii) Reduce the negative impacts of production activities in the livestock grazing and energy production sub-sectors. (iii) Explore opportunities for biodiversity benefits from sustainable tourism, controlled hunting and watershed and ecosystem services. (iv). To address the natural resource related issues by undertaking pilot initiatives in select communities to reduce the consumption of fuel-wood, timber and forage to a sustainable level; reducing risks to healthy Juniper trees from the dwarf mistletoe, fungi, Juniper berry, wasp and forest fires; and controlling or regulating land use to prevent cutting of Juniper trees for conversion of land to cultivation, housing and other uses. Besides several other interventions, the Junipers project is assisting communities in reviving of traditional grazing systems to regulate resources use and manage the local rangelands on sustainable basis. Based on demand by the communities to assist them in regulating their grazing practices, IUCN conducted an exercise to estimate the carrying capacity of rangeland located in Malikhat, district Ziarat.


About Malikhat The survey area of Malikhat rangeland is a privately owned area, falling in district Ziarat of Balochistan Province in Pakistan. The area presents type of mixed vegetation of tropical scrub lands of the province. The study area falls between North 30o 18’.15’’ to 30o 29.09’’ Longitude and East 67o 48’.52’’ to 67o 50’.28’’ Latitude.


Determining of Carrying Capacity of Malikhat Range, district Ziarat  

A general glimpse of rangeland in Malikhat, Ziarat


Carrying Capacity and Rangeland Management In livestock grazing systems, population density affects vegetation production and condition which reduces the vegetation to a sub-climax. Management of a rangeland revolves around measures to balance the regeneration of the plants and the grazing pressure of the livestock. Carrying capacity of a rangeland is the determination of the maximum livestock that a particular range ecosystem can support on a sustainable basis8. Determining carrying capacity of the rangeland and current stocking rate is necessary for proper grazing management9. It is calculated from an estimation of annual production of consumable vegetation, linked to animal requirements for feed and nutrients. Annual primary production can be estimated by the measurement of standing biomass10 (normally at the end of the growing season).

2. ESTIMATION OF CARRYING CAPACITY OF RANGELAND IN MALIKHAT, DISTRICT ZIARAT An exercise was undertaken by experts from IUCN to determine the carrying capacity of a privately owned rangeland in Malikhat. The experts were (i) Mr. Inam Ullah Khan, Manager Junipers, Mr. Rafiul Haq, Coordinator, Natural Resource Management, Mr. Saadullah Ayaz, Coordinator, Climate Change/Clean Air and Mr. Kamal Khan, Research Associate at the Balochistan University. The team was assisted by field staff of the Junipers project, field staff from provincial Forest Department and local representative from community. 2.1. Methodology Field visits were paid to Malikhat during month of September 2011 for estimation of above ground biomass of range flora. Random transact lines at 100 meter interval were laid down. A total of forty-one (41) plots of 1 square meter (1x1) meter were laid at a distance of 100 meters apart.




Determining of Carrying Capacity of Malikhat Range, district Ziarat  

All palatable species were clipped above the ground and fresh weight was recorded (in grams) for individual plots. The palatable range species recorded in Malikhat are enlisted in Annex-I.

Study team during field survey in Malikhat All the collected plant material was air-dried for 15 days. Again the dry weight (in grams) was recorded for each plot. The estimation of carrying capacity was done using the animal unit month (AUM) concept, which is the most widely used way to determine the carrying capacity of grazing animals on rangelands11. The AUM provides with the approximate amount of forage a 1000 pounds (lbs)/453.6 Kilograms (kgs) cow will eat in one month. The AUM has been standardized to be 26 lbs/11.7 kgs. for a 453.6 kg cow with calf when they were the most prevalent on rangeland. Since, forage requirements are not uniform over various sized animals, hence, all other grazing animals are then converted to an “Animal Unit Equivalent” of this cow as per standards below, which are adopted from U.S. Soil Conservation Service National Range and Pasture Handbook12.

                                                             11  Society for Range Management Glossary 


 U.S. Soil Conservation Service National Range and Pasture Handbook


Determining of Carrying Capacity of Malikhat Range, district Ziarat  

Table. 1 Type of Animal Cow (weight 453.6 kg.) Cow with calf Bull (mature) Sheep (mature) Goat (mature) Horse (mature) Donkey/mule 2.2. Animal Unit (Eq.) 0.92 1.00 1.35 0.20 0.15 1.25 0.20

RESULTS The results of the assessment of rangelands capacity are produced below: i. Average production of palatable species per square meter (obtained from field survey)=
124.2 grams/year (dry weight) or 0.1242 kg/year Hence, average production of palatable species per hectare (10,000 m2)= 0.1242x10000= 1242 kilograms/year (dry weight) 1242 kg of dry forage/ha. is available for consumption each year

ii. Since, one animal unit is standardized at 11.8 kg/ha./month= 141.6 kg/ha./year Hence, animal units that the range land can support per hectare, per year would be = 1242/141.6= 8.77 animal unit/hectare/year iii. Taking 8.77 AUM per year, the number of grazing animals the rangeland can support each year is estimated on basis of animal unit equivalents given in Table 1 above. Type of Grazing Animals AU per year
(divided by 8.77)

Approximate Maximum No. of Allowed for grazing in Malikhat*

Cow (weight 453.6 kg.) Cow with calf Bull (mature) Sheep (mature) Goat (mature) Horse (mature) Donkey/mule *The figures have be rounded

0.92 1.00 1.35 0.20 0.15 1.25 0.20

9.5 9 6.5 44 58.5 7 44


Determining of Carrying Capacity of Malikhat Range, district Ziarat  

ANNEX-I List of Palatable Range Species recorded in Malikhat, district Ziarat
i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii. viii. ix. x. xi. xii. xiii. xiv. xv. Caragana ambigua Chrysopogon aucheri Cymbopogon jwarancusa Cynodon dactylon Cyprus sp. Ephedra gerardiana Malva neglacta Nepeta sp. Lumus sp. Peganum harmala Perovskia abrotanoides Pistacia khinjuk Plumas persica Punica granatum Sophora mollis


Determining of Carrying Capacity of Malikhat Range, district Ziarat