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Pastures in northern China have suspended grazing to restore grassland vitality
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Pastures in northern China have suspended grazing to restore grassland vitality

Cattle and sheep have been confined to sheds starting recently in major grasslands in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, as the pastures undergo a 45-day grazing moratorium aimed at revitalizing grass productivity.

Spring is a peak season for livestock production. Duurenbilig, a herdsman belonging to a Mongolian ethnic group residing on the Xilin Gol grasslands, said that he carefully checked his cattle sheds and sheep pens before the moratorium came into force.

"The forage must be prepared in advance to feed the livestock," he said, adding that he harvested grass last autumn and stored it for both the winter season and the moratorium period.

Administered by the Xilin Gol League, the Xilin Gol grasslands, spanning 220 million mu (about 14.7 million hectares), are included in this year's grazing moratorium, for which 101,000 herdsmen households are entitled to subsidies.

The Xilin Gol grasslands became the first area in Inner Mongolia to implement the spring grazing moratorium in 2018, which was extended to the whole of Inner Mongolia this year.

According to the regional forestry and grassland bureau, a total grazing area of 970 million mu is subjected to the grazing moratorium this spring.

Thanks to years of ecological preservation efforts, Xilin Gol grasslands have regained considerable vitality. The vegetation coverage of natural grasslands hit 26.5 percent last spring in the area, with the average height of the grasses reaching 7.7 cm during the period.

Earlier this year, the regional government rolled out a pilot plan to address the problem of grassland overgrazing. This initiative employs precision methods tailored to treat various types of grasslands while taking into account the diverse local economic conditions.

Large swathes of grassland in Inner Mongolia have suffered from desertification and salinization due to overgrazing, drought and other factors. However, over the past decade, the vegetation coverage of the grasslands in the region has notably improved, thanks to integrated efforts, such as the grazing ban, incentive policies for grassland protection, and initiatives focused on restoring degraded vegetation and soil in the grasslands. 

XinhuaShen Yi

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