Innovative grassland management systems for environmental and livelihood benefits

David Kemp, GD Han, XY. Hou, David Michalk, FJ. Hou, Jianping Wu, YJ. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


Grasslands occupy 40% of the world'€™s land surface (excluding Antarcticaand Greenland) and support diverse groups, from traditionalextensive nomadic to intense livestock-production systems. Populationpressuresmean thatmany of these grasslands are in a degradedstate, particularly in less-productive areas of developing countries,affecting not only productivity but also vital environmental servicessuch as hydrology, biodiversity, andcarbon cycles; livestock conditionis often poor and household incomes are at or below poverty levels.The challenge is to optimize management practices that result in“win-winâ€� outcomes for grasslands, the environment, and households.A case study is discussed from northwestern China, where ithas been possible to reduce animal numbers considerably by usinganenergy-balance/market-based approach while improving householdincomes, providing conditions within which grassland recoveryis possible. This bottom-up approach was supported by informingand working with the six layers of government in China to buildappropriate policies. Further policy implications are considered. Additionalgains in grassland rehabilitation could be fostered throughtargeted environmental payment schemes. Other aspects of the livestockproduction system that can be modified are discussed. Thiswork built a strategy that has implications for many other grasslandareas around the world where common problems apply.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8369-8374
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - May 2013

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