Constraints of grassland science, pastoral management and policy in Northern China: Anthropological perspectives on degradational narratives
AbstractPurpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss some of the implications of policies, practices and new “non-equilibrium” management approaches in mobile grassland management. Design/methodology/approach – The author takes an actor-oriented perspective on the narrative of land-use practices, notional sustainable stocking rates and the problematic of state policy interventions in local context. The paper is based on two years in the field on a bilateral aid-funded grassland management project at Xing'an League, Inner Mongolia and follow-up among selected informants. Findings – The constitution of grasslands “degradation” is in fact contested by resource users. Most grassland scientists, Party and Government officials in China have tended to associate ethnic “minority” mobile pastoralists with destructive cultural practices that, they argue, have led to ecological decline on the steppes. This argument is integral to the “degradation narrative” that underpins the discourse on grassland science. The conventional bio-ecology emphasis on species dominance (growth-form), in fact says little about the extent of anthropogenic impacts on above-ground biomass and whether these factors have been the cause of degradation. The paper suggests that greater consideration is given to specific changes in human activity, climatic and plant productivity over time and space, based on endogenous, flexible seasonal estimates. Research limitations/implications – Although presenting challenges to conventional grassland science based on endogenous experiences and herder practices, it may have specific geopolitical limits to more general scaling-up in different contexts. Practical implications – The paper discusses new modalities of non-equilibrium grassland management, inverting normative top-down approaches to controlling environmental degradation, livestock distribution and stocking rates. Social implications – The paper suggests rethinking the use of customary practices, vernacular knowledge and the social organisation of herders in the design of sustainable grassland management. Originality/value – The paper may be valuable to practitioners, rural development planners, funders and researchers interested in the use of integrated, cross-disciplinary, new ecological knowledge in grassland management.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal International Journal of Development Issues.
Volume (Year): 11 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (December)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.emeraldinsight.com
Postal: Emerald Group Publishing, Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley, BD16 1WA, UK
You can help add them by filling out this form.
reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Virginia Chapman).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.