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Grassland

In India, grasslands are mainly found in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Brahmaputra valley. Kachchh, though falling in the arid region, harbors two large grasslands viz., the Banni and the Nailya. Inherent salinity in Kachchh grasslands is a major problem which is further aggravated due to climatic conditions. On top of this, Kachchh region has the maximum livestock population in Gujarat state. Consequently, Kachchh rangelands experience extreme grazing pressure beyond the carrying capacity as the fodder requirement cannot be met from the existing grassland resources. Over few decades invasion by Prosopis juliflora in Banni grassland and high salinity have put the entire ecosystem’s health at risk as they remain threat to the integrity and function of ecosystems. As a consequence of high salinity, enormous grazing pressures and P. juliflora infestation, these grasslands have reduced fodder availability for the livestock. The grassland of Naliya is a breeding ground for the endangered Great Indian Bustard (GIB). Thus, loss of grassland habitat has impounding grazing pressures and is foreseen as a threat to this species. GUIDE, being the leading research organization in this region, has restored ‘thousands of hectares’ of grassland to improve the onsite productivity by growing fodder species following technological interventions to reduce competition in overgrazing while safeguarding biodiversity. The works undertaken for the grassland development included trench fencing, removal of weeds, ploughing and seeding of the area. This is with an attempt to restore the grasslands of Banni and Naliya to their normalcy, and maintain their ecological integrity.