Die Bodenkultur - Journal for Land Management, Food and Environment

W. Holzner and M. Kriechbaum:

Pastures in South and Central Tibet (China)

I. Methods for a rapid assessment of pasture conditions


The preliminary results of a pilot project on the conditions of pastureland in Tibet are presented. Part I of this paper deals with the particular approach, integrative ecology, and methodology which was developed for this task which demanded relatively rough but fast and reliable results and suggestions for solutions. For that purpose, frequently but imprecisely used terms, such as sustainability, overgrazing, desertification and irreversible, have been defined from the viewpoint of the pastoralists. The evaluation of the pastures was based on a system of simple indicators. The results were:

1. With this "instant evaluation" it was possible to assess the conditions of pastures and the trend of pasture development.

2. About one third of the vast pastureland investigated proofed to be in an optimal state, while 50 % show signs of overgrazing and even degradation of ancient origin. 20 % of overgrazing seemed to be of recent origin. The possible causes of this recent pasture destruction, but also some aspects of the whole complex of "pasture problems" and animal losses will be discussed in part II.

Key words:  Pastoralism, Rangeland Ecology, Degradation, Pasture Indicators, Tibetan Plateau.