ISSN 2330-717X

Reconsidering The Efficiency Of Grazing Exclusion Using Fences On The Tibetan Plateau

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A study about grazing exclusion using fences on the Tibetan Plateau(TP) by a team of researchers from China (Dr. Jian Sun’s research team at Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences), Australia and Japan recently published in Science Bulletin, and commented in the Editors’ choice column of Science.

Grazing exclusion using fences is a big issue across TP. Given the complexity of the effects of fencing on ecosystem processes, livestock carrying capacity, wildlife habitat, and herders’ livelihoods and culture, authors do not consider the existing studies on the topic to be conclusive and suggest that further studies, especially long-term field research, are urgently needed.

Nevertheless, according to results, they propose the following methods for improving current grassland management policies on the TP: (1) traditional free grazing is encouraged to maintain or resume the traditional grazing practices and culture if the grasslands have not been degraded; (2) in case fencing is necessary, such as in a severely overgrazed area, short-term fencing of four-eight years is preferable, with removable fences that can be reused elsewhere afterwards; (3) high fence density and connectivity should be avoided, and the existing long-term fences should be removed for the benefits of wildlife; and (4) regular and comprehensive assessments are needed to ensure the policy is being effectively managed to deliver benefits in a timely fashion.

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