10.4.4.2 Grasslands, rangelands and endangered species
The natural grassland coverage and the grass yield in Asia, in general, are projected to decline with a rise in temperature and higher evaporation (Lu and Lu, 2003). Large decreases in the natural capital of grasslands and savannas are likely in South Asia as a consequence of climate change. A rise in surface air temperature and decline in precipitation is estimated to reduce pasture productivity in the Mongolian steppe by about 10 to 30%, except in high mountains and in Gobi where a marginal decrease in pasture productivity is projected by the end of this century (Tserendash et al., 2005). Traditional land-use systems should provide conditions that would promote greater rangeland resilience and provide a better management strategy to cope with climate change in the region to offset the potential decrease of carbon storage and grassland productivity in the Mongolian Steppe under various climate scenarios (Ojima et al., 1998).
The location and areas of natural vegetation zone on the Tibetan Plateau will substantially change under the projected climate scenarios. The areas of temperate grassland and cold-temperate coniferous forest could expand, while temperate desert and ice-edge desert may shrink. The vertical distribution of vegetation zone could move to higher altitude. Climate change may result in a shift of the boundary of the farming-pastoral transition region to the south in North-East China, which can increase the grassland areas and provide favourable conditions for livestock production. However, as the transition area of farming-pastoral region is also the area of potential desertification, if protection measures are not taken in the new transition area, desertification may occur (Li and Zhou, 2001; Qiu et al., 2001). More frequent and prolonged droughts as a consequence of climate change and other anthropogenic factors together will result in the increasing trends of desertification in Asia.