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China's Rangelands Under Stress: A Comparative Study of Pasture Commons in the Muslim Hui Autonomous Region of Ningxia

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Ho, Peter
Conference: Crossing Boundaries, the Seventh Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Conf. Date: June 10-14
Date: 1998
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1301
Sector: Grazing
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): IASC
land tenure and use
indigenous institutions
Abstract: "In the Ningxia Muslim Hui Autonomous Region, in the northwest of China, local attempts have been made to establish corporate management systems with the village as the basic unit of use and control. These attempts were mainly undertaken in Yanchi County, local in the steppe-desert region in the northeast of the autonomous region. Due to increasing problems of desertification, Yanchi has frequently experimented with new grazing practises, sometimes based on principles of traditional Mongol range management. In the early sixties, Yanchi - the only pastoral area in Ningxia after Alashan Left Banner was returned to Inner Mongolia - commenced with grazing experiments in an attempt to solve overgrazing and stimulate a more sustainable rangeland use (Lei, 1964; NHZNT, 1964; Yang, 1964). Unfortunately, these were seriously interrupted by the socio-political upheaval of the Cultural Revolution. But the experimentation was resumed as the economic reforms gained momentum in the early eighties.... "By relying on concepts from theories of common property resource management and collective action (see: Wade, 1987; Oakerson, 1992; Ostrom, 1992), I will attempt to answer a series of questions focusing on the impact of the newly introduced institutional structure for range management on the existing grazing practises. One can wonder how a sedentary livestock farming system reacted to the imposition of a new institutional management structure encouraging rotational grazing, as opposed to the past free-for-all grazing. Moreover, did the system indeed offer sufficient incentives for collective action of the pastoralists, thus stimulating sustainable livestock farming? Were the outcomes of these methods of range management the same for the various regions in Yanchi? And how valuable are the Yanchi experiences for the rest of China? "This article has been written on the basis of research conducted in Ningxia in the spring and summer of 1996. Besides qualitative in-depth interviews, a quantitative survey was carried out, which comprises a total of 284 farm households in ten natural villages in four counties (Yanchi, Tongxin, Guyuan and Pengyang). The villages investigated in Yanchi County are Xiawangzhuang and Shagwangzhuang villages in Chengjiao Township, and Shangjijuan and Ma'erzhuang village in Ma'erzhuang Township. The numbers of the farm households investigated in Yanchi are respectively: 50 (Chengjiao) and 48 (Ma'erzhuang)."

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