Strategies to alleviate poverty and grassland degradation in inner Mongolia: Intensification Vs production efficiency of livestock systems

David D Briske, Mengli Zhao, Guodong Han, Changbai Xiu, David Kemp, Walter Wilms, Kris Havstad, Le Kang, Zhongwu Wang, Jianguo Wu, Xingguo Han, Yongfei Bai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Semi-nomadic pastoralism was replaced by sedentary pastoralism in Inner Mongolia during the 1960's in response to changes in land use policy and increasing human population. Large increases in numbers of livestock and pastoralist households (11- and 9-fold, respectively) during the past 60yrs have variously degraded the majority of grasslands in Inner Mongolia (78M ha) and jeopardize the livelihoods of 24M human inhabitants. A prevailing strategy for alleviating poverty and grassland degradation emphasizes intensification of livestock production systems to maintain both pastoral livelihoods and large livestock numbers. We consider this strategy unsustainable because maximization of livestock revenue incurs high supplemental feed costs, marginalizes net household income, and promotes larger flock sizes to create a positive feedback loop driving grassland degradation. We offer an alternative strategy that increases both livestock production efficiency and net pastoral income by marketing high quality animal products to an increasing affluent Chinese economy while simultaneously reducing livestock impacts on grasslands. We further caution that this strategy be designed and assessed within a social-ecological framework capable of coordinating market expansion for livestock products, sustainable livestock carrying capacities, modified pastoral perceptions of success, and incentives for ecosystem services to interrupt the positive feedback loop that exists between subsistence pastoralism and grassland degradation in Inner Mongolia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-182
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume152
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

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livestock
poverty
grassland
pastoralism
livestock farming
animal product
household income
subsistence
carrying capacity
ecosystem service
production system
marketing
incentive
income
fold
land use
market
cost
livelihood

Cite this

Briske, David D ; Zhao, Mengli ; Han, Guodong ; Xiu, Changbai ; Kemp, David ; Wilms, Walter ; Havstad, Kris ; Kang, Le ; Wang, Zhongwu ; Wu, Jianguo ; Han, Xingguo ; Bai, Yongfei. / Strategies to alleviate poverty and grassland degradation in inner Mongolia : Intensification Vs production efficiency of livestock systems. In: Journal of Environmental Management. 2015 ; Vol. 152. pp. 177-182.
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Strategies to alleviate poverty and grassland degradation in inner Mongolia : Intensification Vs production efficiency of livestock systems. / Briske, David D; Zhao, Mengli; Han, Guodong; Xiu, Changbai; Kemp, David; Wilms, Walter; Havstad, Kris; Kang, Le; Wang, Zhongwu; Wu, Jianguo; Han, Xingguo; Bai, Yongfei.

In: Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 152, 04.2015, p. 177-182.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T2 - Intensification Vs production efficiency of livestock systems

AU - Briske, David D

AU - Zhao, Mengli

AU - Han, Guodong

AU - Xiu, Changbai

AU - Kemp, David

AU - Wilms, Walter

AU - Havstad, Kris

AU - Kang, Le

AU - Wang, Zhongwu

AU - Wu, Jianguo

AU - Han, Xingguo

AU - Bai, Yongfei

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AB - Semi-nomadic pastoralism was replaced by sedentary pastoralism in Inner Mongolia during the 1960's in response to changes in land use policy and increasing human population. Large increases in numbers of livestock and pastoralist households (11- and 9-fold, respectively) during the past 60yrs have variously degraded the majority of grasslands in Inner Mongolia (78M ha) and jeopardize the livelihoods of 24M human inhabitants. A prevailing strategy for alleviating poverty and grassland degradation emphasizes intensification of livestock production systems to maintain both pastoral livelihoods and large livestock numbers. We consider this strategy unsustainable because maximization of livestock revenue incurs high supplemental feed costs, marginalizes net household income, and promotes larger flock sizes to create a positive feedback loop driving grassland degradation. We offer an alternative strategy that increases both livestock production efficiency and net pastoral income by marketing high quality animal products to an increasing affluent Chinese economy while simultaneously reducing livestock impacts on grasslands. We further caution that this strategy be designed and assessed within a social-ecological framework capable of coordinating market expansion for livestock products, sustainable livestock carrying capacities, modified pastoral perceptions of success, and incentives for ecosystem services to interrupt the positive feedback loop that exists between subsistence pastoralism and grassland degradation in Inner Mongolia.

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