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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China

A Report of the

Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People's Republic of China

Office of International Affairs

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1992

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
×

NOTICE: The program of studies of Chinese science was begun in 1990 to inform the scholarly community about the current state of science in China and promote collaboration and exchange between scholars inside and outside of China. The program was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. It was supported under Master Agreement number 8618643 between the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences and Contract Number INT-8506451 between the National Science Foundation and the Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People’s Republic of China (CSCPRC). Program activities in China were supported by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Founded in 1966, the CSCPRC represents American scholars in the natural and engineering sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities, including Chinese studies. The Committee is composed of scholars from all these fields. In addition to administering exchange programs, the CSCPRC advises individuals and institutions on scholarly communication between the United States and China. Administrative offices of the CSCPRC are located in the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 92-80089

International Standard Book Number 0-309-04684-X

Additional copies of this report are available from:
National Academy Press
2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington DC 20418

S-525

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
×

CSCPRC GRASSLAND STUDY REVIEW PANEL

James Ellis, Chairman

Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523

Thomas Barfield

Department of Anthropology Boston University 232 Bay State Road Boston, MA 02215

Raymond Bradley

Department of Geology and Geography University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA 01003-0026

Richard Cincotta

Department of Range Science Utah State University Logan, UT 84233-5230

Robert Coleman

Department of Geology Stanford University Stanford, CA 94305-2115

Jerrold Dodd

Department of Range Management University of Wyoming Box 3354 Laramie, WY 82071-3354

Melvyn Goldstein

Department of Anthropology Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH 44106

Susan Greenhalgh

The Population Council 1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza New York, NY 10017

Roger Pielke

Department of Atmospheric Sciences Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523

Jeremy Swift

Institute of Development Studies University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9RE, England

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
×

CONTRIBUTORS

Orie Loucks Department of Zoology 212 Biological Sciences Building The Miami University Oxford, OH 45056

Ma Rong Institute of Sociology National Peking University Beijing 100871, China

George Schaller Wildlife Conservation International New York Zoological Society Bronx, NY 20460

Tian Shuning Department of Range and Wildlife Management Texas Tech University P.O. Box 4169 Lubbock, TX 79409-2125

Arthur Waldron Department of Strategy U.S. Naval War College Newport, RI 02841-5010

Wan Changgui Department of Range and Wildlife Management Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX 79409

Wang Zhigang Smithsonian Environmental Research Center P.O Box 28 Edgewater, MD 21037-0028

Wu Jianguo Department of Botany 316 Biological Sciences Building Miami University Oxford, OH 45056

Zhang Xinshi Institute of Botany Chinese Academy of Sciences 141 Xizhimenwai Beijing 100044, China

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
×

Preface

One of the goals of the Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People's Republic of China (CSCPRC) is to gather and disseminate information on scientific and scholarly activities in China. This report on grasslands and grassland sciences in northern China reflects this worthy purpose. The report gives a general overview of the ecosystems and the major human land use patterns in this region. This is followed by a review of the Chinese literature on these grasslands and a survey of the principle scientific institutions engaged in this research. The final section presents the perspectives of U.S. and British scientists who have worked on environmental, social, economic, and political issues related to grasslands in China and around the world.

The primary objective of this report is to provide new, detailed information on grasslands and grassland sciences in China. But I believe it has accomplished much more. The results of our study give a striking example of the complex political, economic, and environmental interaction faced by nations around the world. The report illustrates the need for interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the environment. It also alludes to formidable institutional barriers that inhibit scholarship of this type. These problems are universal; China offers only one example.

During the past four decades, policy directives emanating from Beijing and the massive migration of Chinese from the south have changed the relationship between humans and the environment in northern China. The changes include the expansion of farming into former grazinglands and alteration of the traditional pastoral livestock-based socioeconomic system, first to collectivized agriculture, and more recently toward privatization with individual

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
×

responsibility for land and livestock. These relatively rapid political, social and economic changes have shaken previously-existing relations among people, land and livestock. The results include ethno-cultural difficulties as well as severe environmental degradation in many parts of China's rangelands. Today, the grasslands of northern China are in a state of social, economic and environmental flux, and it is not clear when or how a more sustainable land use pattern will emerge. The Chinese scientific establishment is attempting to analyze the ecosystems of China and the changes occurring in them, to absorb new scientific technologies and approaches, including systems science and ecological modeling, and to overcome entrenched institutional barriers to integrated, interdisciplinary research and policy making—all at the same time! We hope that this report, by documenting the on-going environmental crisis and the admirable efforts of Chinese scientists to deal with it, will in some small way encourage expanded cooperation among scientists who are working toward solutions for this and similar problems around the world.

This report was written during a period of increased tensions between the United States and China. Nevertheless, a strong cooperative spirit prevailed among Chinese and American scientists, whose shared commitment was not diminished by political problems. Our Chinese colleagues treated us kindly and made significant contributions to all phases of the enterprise. Principal support was provided by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). CAS vice president, Dr. Sun Honglie, and the CAS Bureau of International Cooperation, led by Mr. Cheng Erjin, put us in touch with all of the major grassland scholars in China and helped arrange visits to their research institutes and field stations. Unfortunately, we cannot name all of the scientists, administrators and others who welcomed and introduced us to the 22 institutions we visited in gathering information for this report, but I do want to acknowledge the special efforts of Dr. Zhang Xinshi, director of the Institute of Botany; Dr. Chen Zuozhong, director of the Inner Mongolian Grassland Ecosystem Research Station; Dr. Zhao Shidong, associate director of the Shenyang Institute of Applied Ecology; and Mr. Li Yutang, chief of the Grassland Division of the Ministry of Agriculture. The knowledge and experience of all our Chinese colleagues and their continuing interest in this study contributed much to its success.

Important contributions to this report were also made by Orie Loucks, Ma Rong, George Schaller, Wan Changgui, Arthur Waldron, Wang Zhigang, Wu Jianguo, and Tian Shuning, whose work appears below. Members of the Grassland Study Review Panel appointed by the National Academy of Sciences evaluated these various contributions, provided comments and insights on key issues raised by researchers in China, and reviewed and approved the report that follows.

If this report makes a useful contribution to science and to improved communication between U.S. and Chinese scientists, that success will be due in

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
×

large part to the efforts of the director of the CSCPRC, Dr. James Reardon-Anderson, and his staff, particularly Ms. Beryl Leach. Jim Reardon-Anderson was the main source of energy and vision for this study; his persistent enthusiasm and high aspirations for cooperation between Chinese and American science infected everyone who worked on the project. He also drafted several sections and served as general editor of this report. Ms. Leach played a major role in the organization of the project and dealt with the complex logistical and diplomatic arrangements inherent in such international cooperation.

It is my pleasure as chairman of the panel that produced this report to thank everyone, named and unnamed, who helped make it possible.

James Ellis

Chairman, Grassland Study Review Panel

Fort Collins, Colorado

December 1991

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
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Contents

Executive Summary

 

xiii

Introduction

 

1

Part I Overview

 

 

1.

 

The Grazinglands of Northern China: Ecology, Society, and Land Use

 

9

Part II Chinese Literature on Grassland Studies

 

 

2.

 

Northern China
Zhang Xinshi

 

39

3.

 

The Northeast
Orie Loucks and Wu Jianguo

 

55

4.

 

Xilingele
Wu Jianguo and Orie Loucks

 

67

5.

 

Central Inner Mongolia
Wang Zhigang

 

85

6.

 

Gansu and Qinghai
Wan Changgui and Tian Shuning

 

93

7.

 

Xinjiang
Zhang Xinshi

 

109

8.

 

Social Sciences
Ma Rong

 

121

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
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Maps

1-1.

 

Geology of Northern China Grassland Areas

 

10

1-2.

 

Regional Vegetation of China

 

12

1-3.

 

Northeast China and Eastern Inner Mongolia

 

16

1-4.

 

North Central China

 

22

1-5.

 

Xinjiang

 

25

7-1.

 

Regional Vegetation of Xinjiang

 

110

Tables and Figures

 

 

Tables

 

 

1-1.

 

Grasslands of Northern China, by Province or Region, 1989

 

14

1-2.

 

Human and Grazing Livestock Population, Northern China, by Province or Region, 1989

 

28

1-3.

 

Minority Population, Northern China, by Province or Region, 1990

 

29

1-4.

 

Major Ethnic Groups in Grassland Areas of Northern China, 1982

 

30

1-5.

 

Grazing Livestock, by Province or Region, 1949–1988

 

35

2-1.

 

Types and Characteristics of Steppes in China

 

44

3-1.

 

Climate and Soils of Northern China

 

57

3-2.

 

Soil Erosion Index

 

59

3-3.

 

Severity and Regional Pattern of Soil Erosion in Inner Mongolia, by Class and Percentage of Area Affected, for Six Classes of Erosion

 

60

3-4.

 

Change in Type and Amount of Sandy Land, from 1958 to 1981, Daqingou Conservation Area, Inner Mongolia

 

64

7-1.

 

Climatological Indices of Xinjiang

 

112

7-2.

 

Seasonal Pastures in Xinjiang and Their Vegetation Types

 

114

7-3.

 

Capacities of Seasonal Pastures in Xinjiang

 

115

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
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Figures

 

 

3-1.

 

Klimadiagram, Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia

 

56

4-1.

 

Klimadiagrams, Xilingele League, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region

 

68

4-2.

 

Livestock population, Baiyinxile State Farm, 1950–1989

 

71

4-3.

 

Grassland area per sheep unit, Xilingele League, 1950–1985

 

72

Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
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Executive Summary

Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China is the first in a series of reports on the state of science in China, produced by the Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People's Republic of China (CSCPRC) with support from the Division of International Programs of the National Science Foundation. This report was compiled by the staff of the CSCPRC and revised, amplified, and approved by the Grassland Study Review Panel, appointed by the National Academy of Sciences and composed of 10 natural and social scientists from the United States and Great Britain specializing in grassland studies. The report describes in general terms the natural ecosystem and human activities in the grasslands of northern China and in greater detail the scientific activities, including research, education, organization, funding, personnel, and science policies, related to the study of this topic. It covers Xinjiang, Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, and the three provinces of the Northeast, but excludes Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, and other provinces and autonomous regions of China proper.

The report is divided into four parts. Part I presents an overview of the ecology, society, and land use practices in the grasslands of northern China, based on published sources and direct observations by members of the CSCPRC staff and the Grassland Study Review Panel.

Part II contains reviews of recent Chinese literature on seven topics: scientific research on the grasslands of northern China, scientific research on the grasslands of each of five subregions—the Northeast, Xilingele League of Inner Mongolia, central Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Qinghai, and Xinjiang—and social science research on the region as a whole. Each review also includes a description of the natural and social systems of the topic in question, com-

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
×

ments on the orientation and approaches of Chinese scholars engaged in this research, and a comprehensive list of references. These reviews, which were written by six Chinese and one American experts on grasslands in China, represent the views of the authors and present both factual information and insights into the thinking of Chinese natural and social scientists and officials who work in this field.

Part III contains descriptions of the staff, facilities, and teaching and research programs of the universities, research institutes, and other institutions responsible for grassland studies in northern China. These descriptions are based on written materials and interview data gathered by members of the panel and CSCPRC staff during brief visits to each institution, as well as correspondence with the directors of research institutes and chairmen of university departments.

Part IV presents a discussion, drafted by individual members of the panel and approved by the panel as a whole, of key issues raised in the rest of the report. These issues include the pastoral frontier, atmosphere-biosphere interactions, social dimensions of grassland studies, desertification and degradation, management of common pool resources, rational rangeland management, conservation and wildlife, and the organization and conduct of science. Because much of the report contains information provided by Chinese scholars and officials of Chinese scholarly institutions, Part IV offers the panel an opportunity to comment on and place in larger perspective the findings of their Chinese colleagues.

Both Chinese and foreign contributors to this report make several points. First, the grasslands of northern China are a vast, rich, yet shrinking resource. Many Chinese scholars and officials responsible for work in this area believe that the process of degradation is rapid, accelerating, and caused by human intervention, particularly the extension of agriculture and overgrazing by domesticated animals, as well as natural factors such as infestation by rodents and insects. Members of the panel note some of the conceptual and methodological difficulties in judging the degree, pace, and causes of degradation and suggest that this is an important question for future research.

Second, in response to the perceived problem of degradation, much research in China has been addressed to the practical goals of protecting, restoring, and making better use of the grasslands to support the pastoral economy. Experimental efforts have included fencing, seeding, plowing, fertilizing, burning, and desalinization of grasslands; the construction of wind breaks; fixation of dunes; and methods of insect and rodent pest control.

Third, parallel to and in support of this applied research has been a program of basic research in botany, zoology, soil science, and other disciplines. Much of this work has been designed to establish baseline data on species composition, population distribution, community structure, vegetation dynamics, biomass productivity, nutrient cycling, and ecological regionalization.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
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Fourth, the Chinese have done less to integrate the study of China's grasslands through the introduction of new concepts such as ecosystem science, techniques such as ecosystems modeling, or interdisciplinary approaches that combine various branches of the natural and/or social sciences. Chinese and foreign observers agree that the future of Chinese grassland studies lies in the application of these concepts, techniques, and methods to the existing organization and program of research.

This report introduces the subject of China's northern grasslands and current scholarly activities in this area to readers outside China, and perhaps inside as well. The purpose is to inform and through information to encourage collaborative research and other forms of cooperation between Chinese and foreigners who share an interest in and concern for this issue. The report does not attempt to assess or evaluate Chinese scientific and scholarly activities or policies, although some judgmental statements or inferences by individual authors or the panel as a whole could not be avoided. The report reaches no conclusions and makes no recommendations.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1992. Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1942.
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This volume describes one of the most extensive grassland ecosystems and the efforts of Chinese scientists to understand it.

Leading Chinese scientists attribute the decline in China's grasslands to overgrazing and excessive cultivation of marginal areas and discuss measures to limit the damage. The book gives its view on the Chinese approach to the study of grasslands and the relevance of this activity in China to global scientific concerns.

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