Spatial relationship with the grazing pressure and alpine grassland degradation base on the GPS tracing experiment: a case study in the source region of Yellow River

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Linshan Liu and Yili Zhang, IGSNRR Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing, China
It is hard to distinguish the affects from the human activities and climate change on the grassland degradation, especially to quantification the human activities. Grazing is the main kind of human activities on the alpine grassland. To investigate the relationship of the grazing activities and grassland degradation will help the understanding of the effects of human impacts. A GPS tracing experiment was designed to tracing the activities of the Yaks. The spatial distribution of the grazing pressure was simulated under Geographic Information System. The biomass distribution and grazing pressure was compared to judge the distribution of overgrazing. The main research results are: (1) The tracing experiment could record the track of the Yaks very well, and it could be a good tool for the quantification research of grazing pressure. (2) The grazing activities have good relationship with vegetation, residents and landform. The worse vegetation is, the grazing time is longer and the radius is bigger. The closer to the residents, the grazing intensive is higher. The grazing route is influenced by the landform. Usually the herds would like to choose the least cost way. And the grazing intensive is higher in sunny slope. (3) The grazing probability is higher while the elevation is lower and the vegetation is better. The numbers of livestock of different villages determine the spatial distribution of the grazing pressure but it has very big heterogeneity in the same village. It seems the forage is enough in the research area since the available biomass is about 1190058t and the total demand is only 603700t. But because of the heterogeneity of the grazing pressure, there are still overgrazing in some villages. The area of overgrazing is 6 percent in the winter rangeland and 11 percent in summer rangeland.

It is important to take care of the spatial heterogeneity of the grazing pressure and grass production in the management of the grassland ecosystem. It should improve the calculation method of the stock capacity to avoid the overrating of it. To arrange the livestock reasonably is the guarantee of the sustainable development in this region.