Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 105–115 | Cite as

Rangeland privatization and its impacts on the Zoige wetlands on the Eastern Tibetan Plateau

  • Yan Zhaoli Email author
  • Wu Ning 


The high Zoige Basin (Ruoergai Plateau) on the eastern Tibetan Plateau is a fault depression formed during intensive uplifting of the Tibetan Plateau. The wetland is globally important in biodiversity and is composed of marshes, bogs, fens, wet meadows and shallow water interspersed with low hills and sub-alpine meadows. Most of the Zoige wetlands have long been one of the most important grazing lands in China. Recent rangeland policy has allowed grazing, and usable wetland areas have been being legally allocated to individuals or groups of households on a long-term lease basis. Privatization of the wetland has impacted the Zoige wetlands in aspects of hydrologic condition, landscape and biodiversity. The uneven spatial distribution of water resources on private lands has led to the practice of extracting ground water, which has decreased the perched water table in Zoige. Fencing off the rangelands and grazing on expanding sand dunes have affected landscapes. Variation in the water table has led to the changes in vegetation diversity, resulting in the changes in wildlife and aquatic diversities and ecosystem processes. Making use all year round of the pasture that was previously grazed only in summer has shrunk the daily activity space of wildlife, and the newly erected fences blocked the movement of wild animals looking for food in the snow to lower and open areas. To maintain the favorable conditions of the Zoige wetland ecosystem, the author suggests that, in addition to biophysical research and implementation of conservation practices, there is an immediate need to initiate an integrated management program, increase public awareness of wetland functions and provide better training for the local conservation staff.


Tibetan Plateau rangeland privatization Zoige (Ruoergai) wetland ecosystem integrity landscape biodiversity 


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Copyright information

© Institute of Moutain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Science Press 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.from Chengdu Institute of BiologyChinese Academy of SciencesChina
  2. 2.International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICLMOD)China
  3. 3.Chengdu Institute of BiologyChinese Academy of SciencesChina

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