When severe sandstorms swept Beijing at the beginning of this century, the
importance of the land degradation issue was lifted to an unprecedented
level since land degradation was seen as threatening the ‘national ecological
security’. To stop the underlying ‘ecological crisis’, a large-scale ‘ecological
construction’ programme was carried out.
This thesis focuses on exploring ecological resettlement, a policy measure
in the programme, in the pastoral context of western China. The aim is to
understand environmentalisation through drawing out the politics of the
formulation, implementation and effects of ecological resettlement at and across
different scales. By combining insights from political ecology, environmental
governance, migration, and pastoralism studies, with fieldwork, interviews,
analysis of policy documents, and statistical analysis, this book provides a
nuanced approach to exploring the human-environment relationship.
The analysis exposes in a developmental context how the central state made
grassland degradation governable, how and why the local state put emphasis
more on short-term-effective solutions rather than on environmental
sustainability, and how and why the pastoral households prioritised social,
economic and cultural considerations over environmental concerns when
making migration decisions. The study draws attention to the significant
impact of ecological resettlement on Mongolian pastoralism. While further
fragmented rangelands obstructed mobile pastoralism, new social arrangements
enabled migrant households to remain involved with pastoralism.