What are the solutions to the problems of loss of soil and plant biodiversity on China's grasslands?

Zhongwu Wang, Guodong Han, Randall Jones, David Kemp, Zhiguo Li, Taro Takahashi, Mengli Zhao

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

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    Abstract

    Grassland degradation in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is a consequence of over-utilisation due to relatively high stocking rates, resulting in environmental problems including declining forage productivity, reduced herbage mass, frequent dust storms and the loss of biodiversity which reduces grassland ecosystem function. The factors affecting wind erosion rates and grassland condition were evaluated using data from a grazing experiment and a model of a livestock farming system on desert steppe in Siziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia. The frequency and intensity of dust storms are related to the wind speed but can be ameliorated by the herbage mass of grasslands. Model predictions agreed with recorded incidences of dust storms. Results from a grazing experiment between 2004 and 2008 that assessed the impact of stocking rates on grassland herbage and plant species biodiversity showed that herbage mass declined as stocking rates increased and rainfall decreased, which raised the risk of wind erosion. Plant species biodiversity was higher in lightly grazed plots, although effects were small. Species biodiversity within each year increased significantly with the increase in above-ground net primary plant production and herbage mass related to increased precipitation. Precipitation above the average rainfall (190 mm) maximised herbage mass, and species diversity tended to be constant below that average. Managing to limit wind erosion by reducing stocking rates is, however, more important than managing for biodiversity in this system. Reducing stocking rates to more sustainable levels needs to be widely applied as a Chinese policy initiative across Inner Mongolia to achieve sustainable grassland ecosystems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationDevelopment of sustainable livestock systems on grasslands in north-western China
    EditorsD.R. Kemp, D.L. Michalk
    Place of PublicationCanberra, ACT
    PublisherAustralian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
    Pages128-138
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Electronic)9781921615456
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    EventXXI International Grassland Congress and VIII International Rangeland Congress - Hohhot, China, Hohhot, China
    Duration: 28 Jun 200828 Jun 2008

    Conference

    ConferenceXXI International Grassland Congress and VIII International Rangeland Congress
    Country/TerritoryChina
    CityHohhot
    Period28/06/0828/06/08

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