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From the Free Tibet website: Due to the unique conditions to be found on the Tibetan Plateau, pastoral nomadism historically represented the primary form of agriculture in Tibet.
China seeks to replace this mobile and extensive style of agriculture with more intensive practices. Nomads have consequently been settled in urban areas, their pastures fenced off and excluded from areas designated for industrial extraction.
Due to the official failure to re-sow degraded areas with native grasses, the productivity of livestock is threatened.
The imposition of Chinese urban and industrial models on traditional modes of production amongst Tibetan nomads is leading to increasing poverty and contributing to grassland degradation, according to the findings of recent surveys of nomadic communities carried out in eastern Tibetan areas. The implementation of Chinese policies of dividing up land, fencing pastoral land and settling nomads are well advanced in many areas of eastern Tibet, including the northern areas of Qinghai and parts of Gansu province, and have in some cases led to short-term increases in production. But serious concerns have been raised by Tibetan, Western and Chinese specialists about the lack of regard for the social and environmental consequences of the official policies.
The stated aims of the policies, which are in line with official policy on settling herders throughout China, are to improve the economic viability of animal husbandry and lessen the effects of natural disasters on the livelihood of Tibetan herdsmen. They also allow for greater administrative control over a population with fixed addresses.
The authorities' attempts to convert a pastoral way of life into an "efficient ranching enterprise" are based on the assumption that a change in land tenure will facilitate a shift from subsistence to market-oriented behaviour.