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Pastoralism: the custodian of China’s grasslands

Wenjun Li, Gongbuzeren

IIED Briefing, 4 pages

Scientific evidence is mounting that rangeland degradation is intensifying and expanding in China’s rangelands, as a consequence of 30 years of inappropriate policies, as well as climate change. Such policies have simultaneously brought negative impacts to herder livelihoods and to the development of pastoral society. Policies have included grasslands property rights reform, an enforcement of ecological protection project, and the settlement of herders into more intensive sedentary livestock production systems.

This policy brief explores the effectiveness of the policies based on an analysis of academic papers. It highlights the unique value of traditional pastoralism, particularly in maintaining efficient and sustainable livelihoods, avoiding degradation of the environment, responding to extreme events, and preserving culture and traditional knowledge. The brief recommends the redirection of policy to reflect these values.

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Drylands policy in Africa and Asia usually tries to resolve perceived problems, bringing productivity, order and stability to what policymakers mistakenly see as marginal, disorganised and unstable environments.

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