Journal of Resources and Ecology

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Fundamental Strategic Shift Required by the Expensive Ecological Policy in Chinese Grasslands

  

  1. 1. Sino-Danish college, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China; 2. Sino-Danish Center for Education and Research, Beijing 100049, China;

    3. Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China; 4. CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China; 5. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China; 6. College of Life Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China; 7. Beijing Yanshan Earth Critical Zone and Surface Fluxes National Research Station, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 101408, China

Abstract:

Grasslands have critically important ecological and economic values while most of them have been suffering from various degrees of degradation in China due to overgrazing. The “Forage-Livestock Balance” (FLB) policy has been implemented for more than a decade, aims to balance the relationship between forage productivity and grazing consumption of grasslands by livestock. According to the review of statistical data and literatures on policy evaluation, FLB-dominated subsidies for grassland ecological conservation policies are ineffective on grassland restoration, livestock reduction in some overloaded areas and improvement on herdsmen livelihood. To deal with the dilemma, we suggest a fundamental shift of strategy from controlling livestock numbers to maintaining and improving grassland health (MIGH) based on ecological theories, and promote the sustainable development of grassland in China. The results show that, FLB policy failed to obtain expected benefits mainly because it interfered with the herders’ autonomous use of contracted grasslands along with the defects of its underlying theory and methodologies. Implementing reward and punishment based on ecosystem health will not only motivate herders to manage their grassland autonomously, but also be more scientific and feasible than FLB.

Key words: Forage-Livestock Balance, grassland degradation; grassland restoration, herders’ livelihood,
subsidy