Theme 6: Pastoralism--Oral Sessions

Description

Overgrazing is widely acknowledged to be the main driver of grassland degradation. Governments seeking to address the grassland degradation problem have therefore focused on policies designed to reduce overgrazing. The Chinese government has implemented a series of policies with the aim of protecting the grasslands from more serious degradation. The efficacy of these policies has been questioned given that, since their introduction, stocking rates have remained high in many affected areas. It has been suggested that the government should enhance grassland monitoring and the punishment of overgrazing. Increasing penalties would reduce stocking rates, however that is likely to cause more social and economic problems. A survey of 1588 herders found that 40% consider the government should set a grass-animal balance rule and implement it strictly, and 30% think the government should only recommend a grass-animal balance rule for herders to follow,only 30% of herders were likely to set the stocking rate by themselves. An analysis of the survey data showed that household expenditure (food, house, clothing, medical expenses) was an important driver of overgrazing. Most herders depend upon their livestock for income; only 3% have a part-time job, compared to over 30% of all Chinese farmers. On average 70% of a herders’ income comes from livestock production and around 26% comes from subsidies. The contingent model developed found that, increasing subsidies with punishment for non-compliance, should reduce stocking rates and help maintain herders’ income, but not to the level required to alleviate poverty and unsustainable. We suggest that herders need training to improve their business skills so they can move from a focus on survival to one where optimising production and better marketing, are the aims of their livestock enterprise. Demonstration farms need to be part of this training.

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Herders’ Attitude and Decision Making in Stocking Rates and Implication for Grassland Management in China

Overgrazing is widely acknowledged to be the main driver of grassland degradation. Governments seeking to address the grassland degradation problem have therefore focused on policies designed to reduce overgrazing. The Chinese government has implemented a series of policies with the aim of protecting the grasslands from more serious degradation. The efficacy of these policies has been questioned given that, since their introduction, stocking rates have remained high in many affected areas. It has been suggested that the government should enhance grassland monitoring and the punishment of overgrazing. Increasing penalties would reduce stocking rates, however that is likely to cause more social and economic problems. A survey of 1588 herders found that 40% consider the government should set a grass-animal balance rule and implement it strictly, and 30% think the government should only recommend a grass-animal balance rule for herders to follow,only 30% of herders were likely to set the stocking rate by themselves. An analysis of the survey data showed that household expenditure (food, house, clothing, medical expenses) was an important driver of overgrazing. Most herders depend upon their livestock for income; only 3% have a part-time job, compared to over 30% of all Chinese farmers. On average 70% of a herders’ income comes from livestock production and around 26% comes from subsidies. The contingent model developed found that, increasing subsidies with punishment for non-compliance, should reduce stocking rates and help maintain herders’ income, but not to the level required to alleviate poverty and unsustainable. We suggest that herders need training to improve their business skills so they can move from a focus on survival to one where optimising production and better marketing, are the aims of their livestock enterprise. Demonstration farms need to be part of this training.