5.4.3 Pastures and livestock production
Pastures comprise both grassland and rangeland ecosystems. Grasslands are the dominant vegetation type in areas with low rainfall, such as the steppes of central Asia and the prairies of North America. Grasslands can also be found in areas with higher rainfall, such as north-western and central Europe, New Zealand, parts of North and South America and Australia. Rangelands are found on every continent, typically in regions where temperature and moisture restrictions limit other vegetation types; they include deserts (cold, hot and tundra), scrub, chaparral and savannas.
Pastures and livestock production systems occur under most climates and range from extensive pastoral systems with grazing herbivores, to intensive systems based on forage and grain crops, where animals are mostly kept indoors. The TAR identified that the combination of increases in CO2 concentration, in conjunction with changes in rainfall and temperature, were likely to have significant impacts on grasslands and rangelands, with production increases in humid temperate grasslands, but decreases in arid and semiarid regions.