Restoring and protecting China’s Ruoergai high mountain peatlands

In China we are working to improve the conservation and management of the high altitude peatlands of the Ruoergai, located on the Tibetan Plateau. It’s the source of many of Asia’s great rivers.

The main causes of degradation of the Ruoergai’s mountain peatlands are drainage to create grazing land and overgrazing. Peatland degradation has negative impacts on the local economy, on the water storage capacity, and global impacts as it causes CO2 emissions through the oxidation of the peat that is drained.

Our conservation strategy

Our conservation work is done by providing funds to improve local communities’ livelihoods and reduce the pressure to wetlands and grasslands. The local people are involved in the grasslands restoration or improvement and reduction of livestock numbers they feed. In exchange, locals are provided with micro-credit using the Bio-rights approach. Also, sanitation, health and the position of women are improved within these communities.

As to give an indication in 2010 we supported the construction of 12 winter warm sheds, 20 greenhouse corridors, grass reseeding and 30 household solar heat facilities for Tibetan herders. This greatly improved living conditions; especially women’s health due to less yak dropping collection and income growth from the livestock. 

Ruoergai Conservation Strategy

In previous years we have involved different government levels, communities and other stakeholders in de developing the Ruoergai Conservation Strategy. Implementing this Ruoergai Strategy local governments protect and restore additional parts of the plateau through gully control, fencing and reseeding of grassland for livestock and desertification control. Family tourism has also been supported by providing solar heat facilities for guest houses. Due to our example in Ruoergai, the Chinese government’s 12th Five Year plan prioritizes peatland restoration and the Aba Prefecture allocates 0.3% annual budget for wetlands restoration. 

Fora for safeguarding conservation

Furthermore, with all these stakeholders (communities, local government and others) we have set up the Ruoergai Forum. The Forum supports the Ruoergai Peatlands Conservation Strategy, in which all important actors work together towards the conservation of these valuable mountain peatlands. Other fora are also used to promote Ruoergai’s conservation such as China’s poverty reduction programme and national programme on wetlands conservation and restoration.

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The closing of gullies to prevent further drainage

Location of the Ruoergai Peatlands