China to Speed Up Clearing Nomads from Grasslands

Reuters reports:

China’s Inner Mongolia region plans to speed up resettlement of nomads from their traditional grasslands to fixed homes in towns, as part of a conservation programme, a top official said on Thursday.

The government will also increase payouts to herders who settle down, said Liu Xinle, deputy governor of the northwestern region. Inner Mongolia is fighting severe desertification blamed in large part on over-grazing of the rolling steppes.

…”We aim to gradually achieve the natural regeneration of the environment on the grasslands through moving people to urban areas, moving animals to designated grazing areas, and moving industry and business into industrial zones,” he added.

The government will use more interventionist methods in areas where natural regeneration is a challenge, he added.

Opponents of the government’s plans say herders who have grazed the grasslands for centuries are key to solving the problem, and should not be blamed for spreading deserts.

See photographs of Inner Mongolian nomads by A Yin, via flickr.