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Grassland degradation and livelihoods in China's western pastoral region: A framework for understanding and refining China's recent policy responses


  • Scott Waldron
  • Colin Brown
  • John Longworth


Purpose - China has embarked on a major concerted strategy to arrest grassland degradation and livelihood problems in the western pastoral region. The paper aims to provide a framework through which this strategy can be understood and refined into the future. Design/methodology/approach - The paper is based on a typology of grassland policies – technical, administrative, and management – and a discussion of the emphasis that China has and should place on each policy category. Data are drawn from policy documents and interview material collected through extensive fieldwork in large tracts of China's western pastoral region. Findings - China has appropriately pursued “top-down” technical and administrative policies to address major and immediate degradation-livelihoods problems. However, longer term solutions to the problems require the strengthening of management structures from the “bottom-up”, especially amongst herders themselves and other economic factors. Practical implications - The paper proposes a series of concrete recommendations that may be considered as China refines its grasslands strategy into the future. The emphasis in the paper on the relationships between multi-dimensional policies is of particular value in addressing multi-dimensional grasslands-livelihood problems. Originality/value - Despite the magnitude and implications of China's recent grasslands strategy, there is a dearth of English language studies on the subject, which this paper aims to fill. The paper includes numerous micro-level insights gained from extensive fieldwork in the western pastoral region that are not evident in more macro-level studies.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott Waldron & Colin Brown & John Longworth, 2010. "Grassland degradation and livelihoods in China's western pastoral region: A framework for understanding and refining China's recent policy responses," China Agricultural Economic Review, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 2(3), pages 298-320, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:caerpp:v:2:y:2010:i:3:p:298-320

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