Contemporary changes to herding systems in China and effects on pasture quality: a case study in Gansu Province, 2000–2012
- 137 Downloads
Post-2000 efforts to protect China’s pastoral areas are distinct from earlier efforts in that funding for the most recent round of policies and programs is commensurate with the task. Even with appropriate funding, however, effective methods of mitigating pasture degradation are widely disputed. The most controversial of the current policies include herding family resettlement, pasture fallow programs (herding “bans”), and the promotion of confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Ideally, the policies are intended to protect grassland ecological systems while assuring acceptable revenues to affected families and regions. This article presents a case study of 49 townships in three counties in central Gansu investigating the interactions among changes in mean interpolated annual precipitation and livestock density and pasture quality. Pasture quality is assessed using mean township values of the enhanced vegetation index (EVI) from 2000 to 2012 obtained by the MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor of the Terra satellite. The research joins remotely sensed environmental data, interpolated annual precipitation estimates, and livestock counts at the township scale for the years from 2000 to 2012 but is also informed by in-depth interviews with herding families and husbandry officials. Joining biophysical analyses of changes in pasture with archived data and in-depth interviews, we adopt a synthetic approach to determine changes to pasture quality under post-2000 policy interventions and possible reasons for these changes. Pasture quality has improved as CAFO livestock have increased; however, herders and local officials report that some of the new policies and programs may have important unanticipated negative impacts related to pasture ecology and water consumption.
KeywordsChina Environmental policies Grassland management Husbandry Gansu Rural China EVI
The work was supported by the National Geographic Research Fund under Grant # 9336-13 and the Western Michigan University Faculty Research and Creative Activities Award under Grant # W2013-035.
- Agriculture Bureau of China (2009). Xin Zhongguo Nongye 60 Nian [sixty years of agriculture in new China]. Beijing: China Agriculture Press.Google Scholar
- Chen, J., Gong, P., Li, P. Y. C., Liu, C. X., & Yu, D. Y. (2006). Vegetation cover changes and correlation with climatic factors in northern China during 1982 – 1999. Resources Science, 28(2), 109–117.Google Scholar
- Dong, X. B., Dai, G. S., Ulgiati, S., Na, R. S., Zhang, X. S., Kang, M. Y., & Wang, X. C. (2015). On the relationship between economic development, environmental integrity and well-being: the point of view of herdsmen in northern China grassland. PLoS One, 10(9), e0134786. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0134786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- ESRI Support (2007). How Inverse Distance Weighted (IDW) interpolation works. ARCGIS 9.2 Desktop Help. http://webhelp.esri.com/arcgisdesktop/9.2/index.cfm?TopicName=How_Inverse_Distance_Weighted_(IDW)_interpolation_works (Accessed 29 September 2017).
- Gang, C., Zhou, W., Wang, Z., Chen, Y., Li, J., Chen, J., Qi, J., Odeh, I., & Grossman, P. Y. (2015). Comparative assessment of grassland NPP dynamics in response to climate change in China, North America, Europe and Australia from 1981 to 2010. Journal of Agricultural Crop Sciences, 201, 57–68.Google Scholar
- Gansu Sheng Dituce (Atlas of Gansu) (2013). Beijing: Cartographic publishing house, ISBN: 978-7-5031-7447-6.Google Scholar
- Jensen, J. R. (2005). Introductory digital image processing: a remote sensing perspective. Upper Saddle River: Pearson/Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Jiang, Q. O., Tang, C. C., Ma, E. J., Yuan, Y. W., & Zhang, W. (2014). Variations of near surface energy balance caused by land cover changes in the semiarid grassland area of China. Advances in Meteorology, 2014, 894147.Google Scholar
- Li, Y., & Hao, R. M. (2011). Grazing resource management and grassland degradation in northern China. Journal of Resources and Ecology, 2(3), 286–288.Google Scholar
- Li, Y. M., Wang, Y. & Schwarze, R. (2014). Pathways to sustainable grassland development in China: findings of three case studies. UFZ.HelmholzZentrum fur Umweltforschung. (Helmholz Centre for Environmental Research) Discussion Paper 2/2014.Google Scholar
- Longworth, J. W., & Williamson, G. J. (1993). China's pastoral region's: sheep and wool, minority nationalities, rangeland degradation, and sustainable development Wallingford: CAN International.Google Scholar
- Meehan, M. A., Stokka G., & Mostrom, M. (2015). Livestock Water Requirements. North Dakota State University Extension Service, Document # AS1673.https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/livestoc/as1763.pdf, (Accessed 1 June 2017).
- NASA LP DAAC (2015). MODIS vegetation indices monthly L3 global 1 km. NASA EOSDIS Land Processes DAAC, USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota (https://lpdaac.usgs.gov) (Accessed 1 June 2017).
- National Bureau of Statistics (2014). 2014 statistical Yearbook of China. Beijing: China Statistics Press.Google Scholar
- National Bureau of Statistics (2015). 2015 Statistical Yearbook of China. Beijing: China Statistics Press.Google Scholar
- NOAA National Climatic Data Center (n.d.). State Annual and Seasonal Time Series. https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/state-temps/ (Accessed 1 June 2017).
- Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (n.d.). Water Requirements of Livestock. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/facts/07-023.htm (Accessed 1 June 2017).
- Purvis, G., Louwagie, G., Northey, G., Mortimer, S., Park, J., Mauchline, A., Finn, J., Primdahl, J., Vejre, H., Vesterager, J. P., Knickel, K., Kasperczyk, N., Balázs, K., Vlahos, G., Christopoulos, S., & Peltola, J. (2009). Conceptual development of a harmonized method for tracking change and evaluating policy in the agri-enviroment: the Agri-environmental Footprint Index. Environmental Science & Policy, 12, 321–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Shapiro, J. (2007). The political roots of China's environmental degradation. In L. M. Jensen & T. B. Weston (Eds.), China's Transformations: the stories beyond the headlines. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar
- Simpson, J. R., Cheng, X., & Miyazaki, A. (1994). China’s livestock and related agriculture: projections to 2025. Wallingford: CAB International.Google Scholar
- Su, D. X., Meng, Y. D., & Wu, B. G. (2015). Agricultural Industry Standards in China-calculation of proper carrying capacity of rangelands. NY/T 635-2015 Photocopy, Chinese, @ http://www.chinesestandard.net/Quotation.aspx?StdID=NY/T%20635-2015 (Accessed 1 June 2017).
- Surls, F. M., & Tuan, F. C. (1982). Agriculture: China’s Agriculture in the Eighties. Section III.2. China under the Four Modernizations. Part 1, selected papers submitted to the Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 419–448.Google Scholar
- Tomlin, D. C. (1990). Geographic information systems and cartographic modeling. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
- Waldron, S., Brown, C., & Longworth, J. (2003). Rural development in China: Insights from the beef industry. Aldershot: Ashgate Press.Google Scholar
- Wang, P., Lassoie, J. P., Morreale, S. J., & Dong S. K. (2015). A critical review of socioeconomic and natural factors of ecological degradation on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China. The Rangeland Journal 37, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ14094.
- Wen, C. (2003). Protecting grassland. Beijing Review, 46(51), 18 December 18.Google Scholar
- Wen, Q. K., Zhang, Z. X., Zhao, X. L., Yi, L., Wang, X., Hu, S. G., Liu, B., & Zeng, T. (2015). Regularity and causes of grassland variations in China over the past 30 years using remote sensing data. International Journal of Image and Data Fusion. https://doi.org/10.1080/19479832.2014.985620.
- Xinhuanet (2011) China launches large grassland subsidy program (English version), http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-05/06/c_13862052.htm (accessed June 1, 2017).