Sustainable Development in Western China
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Sustainable Development in Western China

Managing People, Livestock and Grasslands in Pastoral Areas

Colin G. Brown

This much-needed study provides a unique examination of the intricate web of policies and institutions that now impact on grassland degradation and sustainable development in China’s pastoral region. Understanding this complex matrix and its impact on the management of people, livestock, grasslands, markets and industry structures is crucial in charting a way forward. The authors argue that the aim should be to manage these inter-locking complex systems in a manner that takes advantage of the opportunities that technology present to achieve sustainable use of the grasslands.
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Chapter 1: Romance, Reality and Reformation of China’s Grasslands

Colin G. Brown


China’s grasslands conjure up a certain mystique and romance. Visions of lush grasslands inhabited by strong, resilient, independent peoples have held sway for hundreds of years. Praise for and connection with the grasslands are common themes in the traditional songs of pastoral people and for many urban Han Chinese also. Clean, green images of vast grasslands are found on an increasing number of walls and products, while more and more Chinese tourists are visiting the region. But there is a flip side to these romantic visions. Too many people with too many livestock eke out meagre livelihoods on an ever decreasing and degraded grassland resource. Many of the pockets of absolute and relative poverty in China occur in pastoral areas while severe ecological problems exist at both micro and macro levels. Although the problems that beset the grasslands are not new, they have been largely overlooked until recent times. This is partly due to their locational remoteness from Central level decision makers in Beijing and the prosperous and rapidly developing east coast regions. But the delay in efforts to seriously resolve the issues has much to do with the sheer diversity of the grasslands and overwhelming magnitude and complexity of the ecological and livelihood problems. Efforts to address these challenges are analysed in this book. Yet the book is much more than a treatise on grasslands and grassland policies. The case of the grasslands and pastoral region development offers fascinating insights into how policy makers in China grapple with low...

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