Theme 6: Pastoralism--Oral Sessions

Description

Over-grazing of the grasslands in China and Mongolia is a common problem. Herders typically aim to increase their animal numbers to then hopefully, improve their status and incomes. Various studies have shown that stocking rates often need to be halved to restore grasslands to a sustainable state. Governments have been enacting policies to achieve a reduction in stocking rates, especially in China. However, in both countries, herders have freedom to set their own stocking rates. A survey was done of ~900 herders in Inner Mongolia, on the five main grassland types, to define their styles, attitudes and intentions for stocking rates, their desired stocking rates and how that related to actual and recommended stocking rates and the implications for policies designed to rehabilitate degraded grasslands. Most herders only provide minimal inputs to livestock relying primarily on grasslands for fodder. Herders were grouped into four main types, those who intended to increase or decrease stocking rates Vs their actual stocking rates as a function of their desired stocking rates (+/-). They varied from those who had less than their desired stocking rates yet intended to reduce them further, to those who had more than their desired stocking rates and were intending to increase them. There was a general relationship within villages between the ratio of desired to actual stocking rates and actual number of animals held by the household. This general relationship indicated that within a village the herder’s actual ‘desire’ was for a specified number of animals, rather than a specified stocking rate. Similar attitudes prevail in Mongolia where herders do not think about animals per hectare. The policy implications are discussed.

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Implications of Herder Attitudes for Stocking Rates in China and Mongolia

Over-grazing of the grasslands in China and Mongolia is a common problem. Herders typically aim to increase their animal numbers to then hopefully, improve their status and incomes. Various studies have shown that stocking rates often need to be halved to restore grasslands to a sustainable state. Governments have been enacting policies to achieve a reduction in stocking rates, especially in China. However, in both countries, herders have freedom to set their own stocking rates. A survey was done of ~900 herders in Inner Mongolia, on the five main grassland types, to define their styles, attitudes and intentions for stocking rates, their desired stocking rates and how that related to actual and recommended stocking rates and the implications for policies designed to rehabilitate degraded grasslands. Most herders only provide minimal inputs to livestock relying primarily on grasslands for fodder. Herders were grouped into four main types, those who intended to increase or decrease stocking rates Vs their actual stocking rates as a function of their desired stocking rates (+/-). They varied from those who had less than their desired stocking rates yet intended to reduce them further, to those who had more than their desired stocking rates and were intending to increase them. There was a general relationship within villages between the ratio of desired to actual stocking rates and actual number of animals held by the household. This general relationship indicated that within a village the herder’s actual ‘desire’ was for a specified number of animals, rather than a specified stocking rate. Similar attitudes prevail in Mongolia where herders do not think about animals per hectare. The policy implications are discussed.