Difference Between Rangeland, Grazing Land, and Pastureland

feature image - rangeland, grazing land, and pastureland

Nature has provided us with multiple natural beauties which mesmerize anyone’s sight. Everyone possesses a desire to be in the lap of nature and view the scenic beauty.

Among several natural scenes, there entails rangeland, Pastureland, and grazing land. “On earth, there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it,” as stressed by Jules Renard, a famous French author.

These natural green lands get a source of attraction to the tourists who will visit to seek the pristine beauty. This article prioritizes on the various grounds of the nature that we familiarized.


scrubland - rangeland, grazing land, and pastureland
Scrubland with sheeps (source)

In general, rangeland refers to the open and unimproved land areas that get space either by the native herbaceous plants or the shrubby vegetation and are grazed by the domestic or wild herbivorous animals.

It comprises approximately 40-50 % of the land surface throughout the globe. To yell about the vegetation that the rangeland supports entail savannas, tundra, tallgrass prairies, and many more.

The temperate and the tropical forest used for timber collection and grazing is also included under rangeland. The rangeland is devoid of woody vegetation. Under rangelands, various terms have been categorized, including steppe, scrubland, prairie, and grasslands.

These aspects vary according to the geographic area, harsh climatic conditions, including the temperature and the precipitation, the moisture level in the atmosphere, distribution of flora and fauna within the region, an abundance of food resources, etc.

The animals do graze and browse using the vegetation occupied in the rangelands. They are generally unfenced and include the woodlands in the drier areas, which requires extensive irrigation to grow the crops.

The grasses of the rangelands are adapted in such a condition that they can withstand several droughts and the occasional wildfires.

Permanent cultivation by a human is not possible in the rangeland. The fundamental aim of conserving the rangeland is to assure the sustainable management of the rangeland products such as soil and water resources besides the flora and fauna life.

Since rangeland is a critical source of foraging basically for the animals, it does have a considerable contribution in the recreation, providing timber and minerals, thereby promoting the payment for ecosystem services (PES).

In the present context, rangeland protection includes land conservation and accessories such as rocks, water, soil, minerals, and many more.

Sustainably utilizing the rangeland is paramount to get the achievements in producing the leather and wool from the livestock.

In the Hindu-Kush Himalayan Region, the rangelands are used to feed the livestock since animal husbandry is the primary occupation.

Conflicts regarding the increment in the pressure of the rangeland resources and lack of communication between the stakeholders have been a topic of concern in recent days in the higher mountainous region.

Due to the extensive human pressures in the rangeland, there is unsustainable use of the rangeland resources. The rangeland is not only for the present generation; it keeps the hope to conserve for future generations.

In the present context, multiple computer-simulated future projections and their relation with climate change have been developed so far to acquire information regarding the current status of the rangeland and its urgency in the protection for the long term.

The high-altitude rangelands are considered vital in terms of biodiversity and the promotion of the tourism sector despite the remote geographic locations.

It looks pretty imperative to protect and conserve the rangelands since it stores the nutrients in the soil through the vegetation being grown up. Undoubtedly, rangeland grass is considered a renewable source that can graze again with time.

Grazing land

Grazing land - rangeland, grazing land, and pastureland
Horse grazing on a line of pine in France (source)

The grazing in the grassland may be seasonal, rotational, or continuous, which relies on how the farmers employ the grazing approaches.

Seasonal grazing infers the grazing of animals in the same area throughout the year. While in the case of seasonal grazing, the animals are allowed to graze in particular regions for only some seasons. The rest of the time is allowed for new foraging to grow and develop with time.

Moreover, the rotation grazing in the grassland entails dividing the grazing land into various pastures and grazing according to the sequence throughout the grazing period.

In the grazing land, the farmers let the domestic animals go for grazing and make their source of income through milk, meta, etc.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) research findings stressed that the grazing system throughout the globe had occupied around 60 % of the grassland.

One might be wondering that how broad is the grazing practice since ancient times. To sum up, grazing occupies a space of 26 % of the Earth’s surface in terms of the terrestrial ecosystems.

The principal purpose of grassland management for the long term is to protect the health of the domestic animals from severe acute diseases such as grass sickness and nitrate poisoning.

Besides this, it too aims to preserve the grassland sustainably, thereby halting the issues regarding overgrazing.

The grazing enhances the nutrient cycling, thereby breaking down the complex organic matter into simpler ones. Thus, a well-managed grazing system is foremost when one aims to preserve the grazing land for the long term.

In recent days it has been visualized that overgrazing has caused a severe impact on the rangelands. For instance: Once the domestic or the wild animal overgrazes, it leads to soil erosion, reduces the water infiltration in the soil, and increases the water runoff, thereby causing flooding.

The numerous research depicts that overgrazing has become one of the severe issues in most developing countries today. The grazing land system has several merits, including providing supportive habitat for various mammals, avifauna, herpetofauna, insects, and many more.

The well-managed grassland, without a doubt, is a huge source of carbon sequestration whereby more than 600 million acres sequester the carbon, which cuts off the emission of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


pastureland - rangeland, grazing land, and pastureland
A beautiful Pastureland of Poland (source)

The word ‘Pasture’ is enough to reveal since it deals with grazing. Pasture land refers to the farmland, the managed grasslands, or the enclosed meadows dominated by grazing off the domesticated livestock such as sheep, horses, or the swine.

Pasture lands are mainly situated at a higher latitude. The land harbors various species of grasses and forbs. Rainfall seems to be very low in the pasture land. The animals use it for grazing. They seem to be suitable for the livestock in grazing.

In pasture land, the vegetation is often gets developed through plantations by human beings. It is to be noted that seeding agricultural practices, irrigation, and fertilizers used are often in the pasture land since anthropogenic induced activities develop it.

Several aspects seem crucial in pasture land management, which entails the type of soil, precipitation in rainfall, and the minimum annual temperature.

Overgrazing can exceed the carrying capacity of the pasture land with soil compaction and desertification after long-term overgrazing as a result of human-induced activities.

To add, the under grazing in the pasture land alters the natural rangeland, thereby lowering the net primary productivity of the grassland, which is the critical cause of natural phenomena such as precipitation in the form of torrential rainfall and landslides.

It’s not surprising to depict that the fundamental differences between the rangelands, pasture lands, and grazing lands differ in each area’s vegetation types and management level.

The pasture land includes those land that is targeted for the seedling purpose of introducing the new species. For instance: the tall fescue.

It may entail the seedling of native species such as switchgrass. The pasture lands are managed to control the massive entry of the livestock and agronomy practices.

Well-managed pasture lands are profitable in increasing the rate of soil fertility, thereby causing a reduction in the invasions of toxic and noxious weeds.

Comparison of Rangeland, Pastureland and Grazing land

The rangeland does differentiate from the pasture land because it possesses the native vegetation in the lap of nature. There is a controlled type of burning in the rangeland.

The management practice of the rangeland is the inclusion of controlling the animals from massive grazing. It includes the areas with the seeded species such as crested wheatgrass but possesses extensive management like the native species.

But the Pastureland possess farmland, the managed grasslands, or the enclosed meadows dominated by grazing off the domesticated livestock such as sheep, horses, or the swine.

Pasture lands are mainly situated at a higher latitude. The land harbors various species of grasses and forbs. Rainfall seems to be very low in the pasture land.

The animals use it for grazing. They seem to be suitable for the livestock in grazing. Grazing lands are inferred as those lands where the flora gets dominated by the grass or the grass-like vegetation.

In the grazing land, large numbers of the domestic animals are allowed to go outdoor for grazing, where the animals consume the wild vegetation as per their desire.

The grounds are mainly utilized for animal production in grazing lands. The grass is allowed to rest, thereby giving the turn to other vegetation through rotation. It is the inclusion of the woodland and the cropland which produces the forages for the animals.

Conservation of rangelands, grazing lands, and the pasture lands

Rangeland Conservation. Copyright: Mongabay

Numerous ways have been identified to protect and conserve the rangelands, grazing land, and pasture lands. Eradication of invasive or exotic species through mechanical, chemical, biological, and ecological control looks compelling.

It should not alter the animals’ natural habitat since they are habituated and adapted to their living area. Extension of the migration corridors and the breeding sites can ensure self-protection.

It seems of utmost necessity to control the under grazing and overgrazing of the floral species with sustainable timber harvesting through certified and labeled groups.

The fragmentation of the large forest patches needs to be minimized to assure the proper breeding of the animals. Issues regarding waterlogging can be addressed by effective monitoring of the ground recharge system and the infiltration capacity of the soil.

The rangelands, pasturelands, and grazing land comprise grassland, forest, and water resources. That is why, while conserving the natural lands, preserving the forest and the aquatic ecosystem is a must.

Until and unless the laws and the regulations regarding the rangeland, grazing land, and pasture land are not implemented strictly, our natural lands will be limited on the images only within a few decades.


As discussed earlier, there is a crucial contribution of the natural rangelands, grazing lands, and pasture lands in promoting the biodiversity richness throughout the world, which have been providing Payment for Ecosystem Services.

They do differ in terms of the vegetation and the management practices of the conservation of the lands. The protection techniques and the conservation activities may vary according to the nations.

For the protection of the rangeland, grazing land, and pasture land, there is the necessity of financial investment, human resources, infrastructures, and many more. Some lands comprise woody vegetation, while some do possess the herbaceous flora species.

In the present day, it has been documented that rangeland, grazing land, and pasture land are in massive threat due to anthropogenic-induced activities. Thus, it seeks considerable attention from stakeholders throughout the world.

In the absence of such pristine natural beauty, it can negatively influence the nutrient cycling, balancing of the ecosystem through the food web and the food chain, Earth’s heat balance system, and the biogeochemical cycle as a whole.

It requires keeping such lands in the topmost priority for the conservation efforts in the coming days. Not only these, every enviromental aspects and biodiversity deserves our contribution towards conservation.