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Trasform Conventional Corrals, Protect Alpine Wetlands

By pendeba - Posted on 29 June 2014

With generous support from LAO NIU Foundation, the Pendeba Society’s Conventional Sheep Corral Transformation project was awarded a Bronze Award at the Second China Charity Fair in September 2013, which was organized by the Ministry of Civil Affairs along with the Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce together with the Shenzhen and Guangdong governments. The project has now been jointly funded with 500 thousand CNY from the Ministry of Civil Affairs of China. The project aims to transform 80conventional sheep corrals, sized of 150 m2 each. The project will render multiple social and economic benefits. Firstly, conventional poorly constructed sheep corrals will be transformed into those of better and stronger quality, and it reduced local annual labor input to repair conventional ones. The new corrals will ensure better and safer environment for breeding baby sheep, reduce lamb death rate and increase local household income.  Secondly, better and stronger sheep corrals will help protect livestock from cold temperature and snowstorms, which then reduces death rate of sheep and other livestock during the winter. Lastly, this project meets the urgent needs of local villagers, and supports the region’s sustainable development, contributing to a better future of Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

Since March 15, 2014, with support from local governments and communities, the team from the Pendeba Society has set off to examine conventional sheep corrals status in Bangbu, Oumudu, Ciri and 9 other villages in Tingri, Nyalam counties. Through the field visit, the team has found that there are still many conventional sheep corrals, and neighboring wetlands and grasslands have been by and large damaged due to continued reparation of the corrals. To build such conventional sheep corrals, it requires lots of labor input, and large areas of grasslands and wetlands would be destructed by digging out earth blocks for construction materials. The destructed wetlands and grasslands would take years to restore, and some of them could face desertification risks without proper restoration measures. Even local villagers have realized the risks and damages to local ecosystems of building conventional sheep corrals, due to lack of initiatives and substitute resources, the conventional ways still prevail. In this case, the Pendeba Society would like to take the lead to call for more attention for sustainable management of Alpine wetlands and grasslands in the region, and create an environmentally friendly future for generations to come.

The Pendeba Society has noted the importance to transform the conventional sheep corrals. Though local government has issued certain regulations on preventing continued destruction of wetlands and grasslands for repairing corrals, the implementation is weak and local villagers lack certain incentives and substitute resources to change the situation. The Pendeba Society has therefore initiated the conventional sheep corrals project in selected villages, and all the participating communities have showed active participation in this project. At present, the Pendeba Society has reached collaboration agreements with certain villages according to project guidelines and local conditions. As per the agreement, some villages will complete transforming their conventional corrals by June 1, and some others will complete by October 1 considering local labor requirement of agricultural production activities. So far, the project is running in a very smooth way, and will complete as planned. The Pendeba Society would like to extend our gratitude to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, local governments and communities for their generous support and active participation.

What are conventional sheep corrals?

Conventional sheep corrals are those made out of wetlands or grasslands earth blocks.  There are no measures to reinforce these conventional corrals and the mud does not bind tight. When there are heavy rains in summer, these corrals would fall apart easily. It is very difficult for grassland of high altitude to restore balance, not to mention that these grasses were eradicated. Hence, damages due to these conventional corrals are lasting and irrevocable. In the meantime, rebuilding and repairing these corrals also require much labor input from local communities, which may repeat year after year.