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Sustainable grassland management encouraged in China

The project will develop a number of activities to improve the profitability of livestock rearing (© FAO/Pierre Gerber)
The project will develop a number of activities to improve the profitability of livestock rearing
© FAO/Pierre Gerber

A pilot project in the Qinghai province of China aims to demonstrate how sustainable grassland management can protect soil and enhance productivity, resilience and herder livelihoods. Herders will select a combination of grassland restoration, zoning and stocking rate management options, designed to fit their specific land use. By breaking the cycle of overstocking and degradation, approximately 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide will be prevented from being released into the atmosphere over ten years .

The Three Rivers Sustainable Grazing Project also addresses some of the main barriers to smallholder access to carbon finance, including the lack of appropriate methodologies for crediting, and for cost effective monitoring, reporting and verification. A key step to accessing carbon market finance is the development of carbon accounting methodology which is affordable, but also sufficiently accurate for the carbon market. This important hurdle is close to being overcome thanks to the development of such a methodology for validation by the Verified Carbon Standard. While developed for the Qinghai project, it will be applicable to similar projects throughout the world.

Once the methodology has been validated, the project management actions will commence. During the first ten years, it is expected that households will have fewer but more productive livestock. Given the current overstocking rates, considerable reductions in income are expected during the first years of the project as stocking rates are reduced, for which herders will receive compensation. In the following years, as incomes are expected to grow in response to increased livestock productivity, compensation will decrease progressively until year ten. After ten years, increased forage availability will enable higher incomes and levels of production, providing an incentive for long-term sustainable management. To improve farmers' livelihoods, the project will also develop a number of activities to improve the profitability of livestock rearing, including improved feeding, winter housing and breeding, as well as the development of processing activities and marketing associations.

* The methodology and the project are being developed by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science (CAAS), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

This article is one in a series of case studies published in the lead-up to Agriculture and Rural Development Day, on December 3, held in parallel with the upcoming climate change negotiations in Durban, South Africa.

Date published: November 2011


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