Rangelands provide us both natural and economic benefits. We get natural resources, tangible and intangible products from the rangelands. It provides a habitat for wildlife and other ecosystems. It also provides recreational activities like hiking, birding, camping, and other activities. The aesthetic beauty cannot be ignored as well.
Healthy rangelands have a huge diversity of plant and animal species. You will find mostly perennial plants there instead of the annuals. They will have less erosion as the soil surface has lots of plant cover.
In unhealthy rangelands, there are more annual than perennial plants. The soil is not properly covered with plants so there is a chance of erosion by water and wind. For this, the land becomes less productive. Here are some signs of unhealthy rangelands.
If the grass plants sit on a small pedicel of soil, then it’s a sign of erosion and unhealthy rangelands. This results in less productive plants.
If there are large areas of bare land, then it’s a sign of an unhealthy rangeland. Due to the lack of trees, the unhealthy soil will erode and form crusts. So, it reduces the amount of water that can infiltrate the soil and so affects the growth of plants.
Gullies and stream banks
If there is no vegetation in the gullies and stream banks, then it’s a sign of unhealthy rangelands. Vegetation on the banks of streams can slow the flow of water and hold the soil.
More annual plants
Rangelands get damaged through overgrazing. The perennial plants are replaced by annual plants which have short life cycles and grow in favorable conditions only. So, they don’t provide continuous protection of the soil. They cannot provide enough forage for the wildlife and livestock.
These warning signs must be monitored and steps must be taken to plant more vegetation so that there is less soil erosion.