TOPICS: Promote agro-forestry

Overgrazing, which is the tendency of local human populations to permit animals to graze freely without regard to the carrying capacity of range of pasture, has become a menace in recent years.

This trend has led to the massive destruction of vegetation in some places, which has caused a great economic loss to the nomadic populations. Not only this, overgrazing has turned fertile verdant areas into deserts.

In the past, grazing animals were kept in check by rainfall and hence by the availability of water.

However, in recent times, there has been little effort to manage the grasslands to let them periodically rest and recover.

The lack of rotational grazing and overgrazing led to decreasing productivity, soil erosion, a drying up of springs, wells and rivers, and the growth of man-made deserts.

Overgrazing harms wildlife by disrupting the natural equilibrium between native plants and wild herbivores, and compels sheep herds to use trees for fuel. They also kill scarce birds and animals for food.

Nowadays, semiarid grazing lands are being destroyed alarmingly. The conversion of productive areas into deserts is seen around the edges of the Sahara, the deserts of the Middle East, Pakistan, Mongolia, Australia and western North America.

During the past few decades, the human and livestock misuse of semiarid grasslands has gradually led to a complete loss of vegetation cover, leaving the social bare to wind and water erosion and soil dust from the Sahara and Sakhalin zones are transported long distances into and over the Atlantic.

In India, in recent times, desert like tracts have appeared because of human misuse of vegetation by cattle.

Due to the same reason, large areas of African semi-deserts and savannah that formerly seconded a wealth of wildlife have turned sterile.

Likewise, in many parts of east Africa, west Africa and Madagascar, the area of deserts is spreading in previously fertile countries.

As soon as overgrazing by cattle occurs or farmers practice unwise agricultural methods, vegetation and wildlife rapidly disappear by erosion and give way to deserts. When a country grows sterile, the civilization existing there cannot survive.

Since rearing livestock stands head and shoulders in Nepal, overgrazing has caused an unfair impact on the development of pastures here.

To correct overgrazing, emphasis should be placed on growing fodder trees in the lower belts and preserve grass in the higher altitudes.