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