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China Imposing Grazing Ban in Order to Save Pasture

BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific - Political
March 27, 2006

Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)

Harbin, 27 March: China is trying to restore its degraded pastures by banning grazing, and official sources believe that the policy has produced encouraging results.

Currently, grazing is prohibited in 71.25m hectares of natural pasture in the country, leaving more than 20m livestock being raised in captivity instead of roaming on wild grassland, according to the Pasture Monitoring Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Natural pasture has a very crucial bearing on ecological safety in the country. China has decided to restrict grazing to special zones, in compliance with the 11th Five-Year Programme (2006-2010), which was approved at the Fourth Session of the 10th National People's Congress earlier this month.

China boasts 400m hectares of natural grassland, or 41.7 per cent of the country's total land area, the second largest in the world.

However, due to excessive grazing and blind development, more than 80 per cent of China's 260m hectares of usable grassland has deteriorated, or turned more sandy, leading to escalating soil erosion, more sand and mud being washed into rivers, sandstorms and flooding.

Deterioration of grassland poses a grave threat to the ecological safety of the whole country, said an official with the Pasture Monitoring Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture.

In northeastern province of Heilongjiang, the acreage of grassland has shrunk by 50 per cent in the past two decades, and the number of livestock per unit of grassland is five times the capacity of the grassland south of the Songhua River.

As a result of excessive development, the acreage of grassland has shrunk by 3.8m hectares in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region compared with the figure in the 1980s. Per unit grass output dropped by 19.3 per cent and capacity by 21.51 per cent, according to local animal husbandry authorities.

Serious damage has also occurred to 12m hectares of grassland, or 50 per cent of grassland in the northern part of Tibet Autonomous Region, southwest China. The affected area is expanding by five per cent every year, according to local animal husbandry officials.

Other Chinese provinces including Qinghai have also see the worsening to varying extent in local grasslands, according to reports from the localities.

China launched a programme to return herds to the grasslands last year. According to the plan, China is expected to spend 26bn yuan (some 3.25bn US dollars) to restore more than 660m hectares of grassland before 2010.

Many herdsers were worried that their income would drop due to the ban. Xu Feng, a herdsman of Heilongjiang Province, however, has found his income has risen by 30 per cent and noticed that the local grassland is greener than one year ago.

Grass output in the Mongolian Autonomous County of Dorbod in the region rose to the current 1,500 kg from the former 450 kg per hectare, thanks to the grazing prohibition, said the local animal husbandry department.

Inner Mongolia reported that a three-year grazing-for-grassland pilot programme has increased the vegetation rate to over 60 per cent from former 20 per cent in the Ordos grassland. The Xilin Gol grassland, once one of the major sources of sandstorms, reported only six sandstorms so far this year compared with 27 in 2000.

To achieve ecological improvement, the development of high-efficiency agriculture and animal husbandry, and an increase in income for farmers and herders, the Ministry of Agriculture has urged local governments to adjust the mix of agriculture and animal husbandry and develop follow-up industries to absorb surplus rural laborers in the grazing-for-grassland project areas.




From Yeke-juu League to Ordos Municipality: settler colonialism and alter/native urbanization in Inner Mongolia

Close to Eden (Urga): France, Soviet Union, directed by Nikita Mikhilkov

Beyond Great WallsBeyond Great Walls: Environment, Identity, and Development on the Chinese Grasslands of Inner Mongolia

The Mongols at China's EdgeThe Mongols at China's Edge: History and the Politics of National Unity

China's Pastoral RegionChina's Pastoral Region: Sheep and Wool, Minority Nationalities, Rangeland Degradation and Sustainable Development

Changing Inner MongoliaChanging Inner Mongolia: Pastoral Mongolian Society and the Chinese State (Oxford Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology)

Grasslands and Grassland Science in Northern ChinaGrasslands and Grassland Science in Northern China: A Report of the Committee on Scholarly Communication With the People's Republic of China

The Ordos Plateau of ChinaThe Ordos Plateau of China: An Endangered Environment (Unu Studies on Critical Environmental Regions)
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