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 4: Managing Grassland Policies

Colin G. Brown


China has taken a multi-faceted approach to the grasslands challenge including building grassland institutions (as described in Chapter 3) along with other measures related to industry structures, markets, livestock and feed policies, settlement and structural adjustment policies (as will be investigated in Chapters 5 to 8). However recent years have witnessed an increased emphasis on grassland-specific measures as reflected in an extraordinary number of plans, edicts, laws, regulations, standards and programs related to grasslands. Collectively they are referred to as ‘policies’ in this chapter and they establish the framework under which grasslands management occurs. The plethora of grassland policies and the dynamic changes taking place warrant critical assessment. First the past legal and policy framework for grasslands was underdeveloped and contained some inherent flaws. Second the number and scope of the measures and the apparent institutional weight behind them does not always, or indeed usually, equate to impact on the ground. A major challenge for policy in China then may not be about developing new policies but in making existing policies work. Third even though the plethora of policies appears on the surface to be uncoordinated in intent and sequencing there is some overriding logic by which to interpret the policies.1 Understanding these connections and the not-easily-observable systematic nature of the entire suite of policies is crucial if these policies are to be reformed. The challenges that confront policy makers should not be underestimated. The sheer diversity of the grasslands and pastoral region entails the need to balance...

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