Enclosure and Resettlement in the Eastern Tibetan Plateau: Dilemma of Pastoral Development During the Last Three Decades

  • Wu NingEmail author
  • Yan Zhaoli
  • Lu Tao
Part of the Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research book series (AAHER)


The eastern Tibetan Plateau (ETP) in China is one of the most productive pastoral areas in highland Asia, which has been always placed on the crest of ­policy-driven changes for pastoral development and rangeland management in the last few decades. Profound changes from traditional pastoralism in the eastern Tibetan Plateau included the collectivization of livestock and rangeland from the late 1950s, privatization of livestock from the early 1980s, enclosing rangelands for private utilization from the 1990s and massive settlement and resettlement of herders in ‘Pastoral New Villages’ from the twenty-first century. The policy-driven changes initially aimed only to maximize livestock production but later on added in a deliberate intention to modernize pastoralism and prevent rangeland degradation. What in some places of experimental site seemed to work well in rangeland privatization or pastoralists’ settlement, nevertheless, brought in many other situations more pressures to both people and their environments. China is spending significantly increasing amount of resources in rangeland management, but the effectiveness of the programmes in achieving dual targets of fair pastoral development and environmental conservation are questionable. The challenge is becoming even greater and has given the impacts of global development and climatic change to the ecologically fragile and economically vulnerable eastern Tibetan Plateau. New policies for ecosystem compensation or payment for ecosystem services might be an alternative if wisely formulated and implemented.


Tibetan Plateau Herder settlement Pastoral development Rangeland enclosure Ecosystem compensation 



The work was partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the helpful comments and suggestions of the reviewers, which have improved the presentation.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chengdu Institute of BiologyChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina

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