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Sustainability 2016, 8(11), 1162; doi:10.3390/su8111162

Grazing Exclusion to Recover Degraded Alpine Pastures Needs Scientific Assessments across the Northern Tibetan Plateau

1
Lhasa Plateau Ecosystem Research Station, Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modelling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
2
College of Global Change and Earth System Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
3
Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
4
Functional Biodiversity, Dahlem Center of Plant Science, Free University of Berlin, 14195 Berlin, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vincenzo Torretta
Received: 11 October 2016 / Revised: 30 October 2016 / Accepted: 7 November 2016 / Published: 10 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2253 KB, uploaded 10 November 2016]   |  

Abstract

The northern Tibetan Plateau is the most traditional and important semi-nomadic region in Tibet. The alpine vegetation is sensitive and vulnerable to climate change and human activities, and is also important as an ecological security in protecting the headwaters of major rivers in Asia. Therefore, the Tibetan alpine grasslands have fundamental significance to both Mainland China and South Asia. The pasture degradation, however, likely threatens the livelihood of residents and the habitats of wildlife on this plateau. Since 2004, the government has launched a series of ecological restoration projects and economic compensatory payment polices. Many fences were additionally built on degraded pastures to prevent new degradation, to promote functionality recovery, and to balance the stocking rate with forage productivity. The grazed vs. fenced paired pastures across different zonal grassland communities along evident environmental gradients provide us with a natural comparative experiment platform to test the relative contributions of natural and anthropogenic factors. This study critically reviews the background, significance of and debates on short-term grazing exclusion with fences in this region. We also aim to figure out scientific and standardized workflows for assessing the effectiveness of grazing exclusion and compensatory payments in the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: alpine grasslands; climate change; compensatory payment; fencing; grazing enclosure; livestock management alpine grasslands; climate change; compensatory payment; fencing; grazing enclosure; livestock management
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Yu, C.; Zhang, X.; Zhang, J.; Li, S.; Song, C.; Fang, Y.; Wurst, S.; Wu, J. Grazing Exclusion to Recover Degraded Alpine Pastures Needs Scientific Assessments across the Northern Tibetan Plateau. Sustainability 2016, 8, 1162.

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