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Agricultural Studies
AGST 1000
Henning Bjourlund

Desertification The Mongolian Steppe- Environmental, Social and Economic Impacts - The first dusty day of the year Beijing on March 1 and the meteorological observatory estimates the capital will experience about 10 more offspring Part 1: Some background the central Asian Steppe - Central Asia contains 6% of the woods grassland - Mongolian mobile pastoralists raising livestock - Changes in land use pattern in this century have caused deterioration of the natural vegetation The Central Asian Steppe - The Steppe is a region which experiences serious drought and desertification - More than 40% of the territory is composed of arid and desert areas (The Gobi desert) - The area covered by sand has increased by 8.7% during the last 40 years The climate is continental - Warm, wet summers and cold, dry winters - Strong winds blast across the steppes unimpeded by natural or man-made windbreaks - Many part experiences periodic severe winter storms that often kill 20% or more of the livestock - Receives relatively little precipitation - Most of what it receives falls during summer - The distribution of rainfall overtime and space is extremely variable What is a steppe? - Average altitude of 1560m above sea level - Eastern Mongolia Steppe 250,000 km2 of grassland without fences Mobile and flexible nomadic herding strategy - Mountain steppe: o Grazing sheep, yak and cattle - Desert Steppe: o Grazing goats and camels Pastoral Nomadism - Pastoral Nomadism is the way of life for thousands of years - Land climate not suitable for cereal agriculture - Informal custodian property right - A complex and sophisticated adaptation to an environment marked by extreme variability - Live in symbiotic relationships who settled agriculturalists Mobility Key to benefits - Pastoralism facilitate use of various and patchy resources of the steppe - Mobility key to temporarily benefit from resources insufficient to sustain people all year - Winter survival key- winter campsites limited, ownership of these have therefore always been well-defined - Ownership is the rights to use certain strategic areas Traditional felt tents- the GER - Herders travel in extended family groups or herding groups The Ecological setting of Steppe Pastoralism - Grasslands which constitute roughly 70% falls into 3 major ecological zones o The mounting-steppe o The steppe o The desert-steppe - 32 Million head of livestock (camels, cattle, yaks, horses, sheep and goats craze on these steppe lands) Pastoral Economy - Extensive livestock production rather than intensive production supported by cultivated fodder crops - Virtually all nutritional needs of the herds met by grazing on wild grasses or by browsing on shrubs - A small amount of wild hay is cut, dried and stored in the more productive mountain-steppe areas Part 2: The history of feudal society- The Mongol Empire - The sustainable management of pastureland as a “common property resource” requires the participation of all stakeholders in strong herder organizations o The Chingghis Khan granted fiefs to his allies (1206-1227) o Tibetan Buddhism in 1586 a monastic continuation of feudalism o Manchu Colonization 1789 Social organization of herding - Herding Camp o 1-12 households o Flexible and changeable grouping o Camped and travelled together with a designated leader o Pooled their animals into herds o Maintained wells, pastures and hay meadows - Local administration o 150-1000 households with a “headman” and a tax collector - Provincial administration- a khoshuun: o 1000-10,000 household controlled by prince Customary law of the Steppe - Which area for monastery herds, and which were sacred or the headquarters for royal lineage - Articulating water rights (he who dis a well has first rights but is obliged to give water to the steeds of passing travellers) - “First come-first served” law of the steppe with regard to nomadic campsites o Not for protection for wind- only for the land itself - Cross-border movements between khoshuuns in times of drought or climatic disaster - Until Manchu rules in 1789 could change Khoshuun Customary regulation regulated use of pasture - The areas claimed by the nobility were the best pasture areas - Seasonal grazing areas and migratory routes were dictated by the leader of each herding group (sheep/camel), according to the wishes of the head lama or prince - The degree of regulation and specificity in pasture allocation varied among ecological zones - Pastures for special purposes, such as autumn fattening, winter camps or annual livestock census, were officially set aside and their use monitored Pastoral land use under Manchu after 1789 - Varied among ecological zones - Regulation of seasonal movement controlled land sue and access to resources - This was nomadic move from winter pastures to summer pastures - Other, the rapid deployment of a subgroup of the household and herds to a distend pasture with a permanent base camp and a mobile satellite camp An example from Erdene - Until 1924 it was the territory of a Monastery controlled by a wealthy Lama in Mongolia - The land holdings were 20,000km2 with 5,279 camels, 4,884 horses, 1,774 cattle and 18,070 sheep and goats - Allocated to 363 households divided into 6 groups - Most of the herds had to camp in the vicinity of the monastery during the summer, to deliver their production quotas and fresh dairy products Part 3: History - The South Siberian area was annexed in the 16 and 17 century by Russia - Inner Mongolia became an autonomous region of China in 1947 - Outer Mongolia was part of the Soviet Union from 1921-90 - (Outer) Mongolia gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union Changing Land Use - 3 different political approaches o Inner Mongolia (China)  More then 2/3 of the grassland have been degraded in the last century o Russian part:  More than 75% income places have been degraded in the last century o Mongolia  25% of pasture degradation appears to have occurred into eh independent state of Mongolia - The Russian and Chinese have had political and economic reasons to develop more intensive agriculture, timber industry and mining - The independent Republic of Mongolia have changed the least Soviet wanted more productivity - During the 20 century agricultural collectives introduced mechanized mixed farming methods - Mobile herding ceased in the 1930s - The old herders did not want to farm - People from areas were encouraged to come - Resulted in population increase - Hungarians came to set up irrigation systems - 20% of the area was originally covered in forest - Concessions were granted to harvest the trees - Mining concessions, East of Lake Baikal, are among the biggest uranium operations in the world Agricultural output to increase (Outer
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