Impact of grassland contract policy on soil organic carbon losses from alpine grassland on the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau

Cao, J. and Gong, Y. and Yeh, E. T. and Holden, N. M. and Adamowski, J. F. and Deo, R. C. and Liu, M. and Zhou, J. and Zhang, J. and Zhang, S. and Sheng, D. and Yang, S. and Xu, X. and Li, M. and Feng, Q. (2017) Impact of grassland contract policy on soil organic carbon losses from alpine grassland on the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau. Soil Use and Management, 33 (4). pp. 633-671. ISSN 0266-0032


Carbon storage in the soils on the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau plays a very important role in the global carbon budget. In the 1990s, a policy of contracting collective grasslands to smaller units was implemented, resulting in a change from the traditional collective grassland management to two new management patterns: a multi-household management pattern (MMP: grassland shared by several households without enclosures) and a single-household management pattern (SMP: grassland enclosed and used by only one household). In 2016, 50 MMP and 54 SMP winter pastures on the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau were sampled to assess the differences in soil organic carbon (SOC) between the two management patterns. Results showed that average SOC was significantly greater under MMP than under SMP, with an estimated 0.41 Mg C/ha/yr lost due to SMP following the new grassland contract. Based on the government’s grassland policy, four grassland utilization scenarios were developed for both summer and winter pastures. We found that if the grassland were managed under SMP, likely C losses ranged between 0.31 9 107 and 6.15 9 107 Mg C/yr across the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau relative to MMP, which more closely resembles pre-1990s grassland management. Previous estimates of C losses have only considered land use change (with cover change) and ignored the impacts driven by land management pattern changes (without cover change). The new data suggest that C losses from the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau are greater than previously estimated, and therefore that the grassland contract policy should be reviewed and SMP households should be encouraged to reunite into the MMP. These findings have potential implications for landm anagement strategies not only on the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau but also other grazing regions globally where such practices may exist.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2017 British Society of Soil Science. Dr R C Deo thanks the CAS Presidential International Fellowship Initiative Program and the University of Southern Queensland Academic Development and Outside Studies Program (2016) for research funding.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2017 04:52
Last Modified: 04 May 2018 04:38
Uncontrolled Keywords: land use policy, grazing management, carbon storage, trampling, global carbon cycle, policy scenarios
Fields of Research : 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0703 Crop and Pasture Production > 070302 Agronomy
05 Environmental Sciences > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1111/sum.12387

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