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Land use | Amur Information Center / Portal

Land use

The contrasts in land use are large and widening among Amur-Heilong River basin countries (see Table below). All three basin countries have already passed through or are now nearing the end of their "frontier development" periods that were characterized by frenzied exploitation without concern for or protection of natural resources. This leaves all three countries at the doorstep of an era during which land use must be driven by adjustment to natural and economic conditions if ecosystem collapse is to be avoided and valuable resources are to be recovered. Despite obvious indicators that highlight the unsustainability of past development strategies, recent decisions by national and local government continue to follow past practices. Examples of recent government actions that demonstrate a business as usual approach to development include:

1.The continued extensive conversion of wildlands to farmlands and pasture in China, typically without full consideration of carrying capacity or adverse impacts to ecosystems;

2.The degradation of nomadic traditions in Mongolia driven by rapid political changes in Mongolian society and concomitant resource degradation;

3.The economic crisis in Russia, driven by a prolonged period of haphazard governmental reforms that has lead to chaos in the administration of natural resources.

4.Unsustainable Timber harvest in the Russian Far East and East Siberia stimulated by growing volumes of international timber trade.

5.Growing area affected by Oil&gas extraction and transportation impacts and mining impacts in Russia and Mongolia.

Land is used much more intensively in China than in Russia or Mongolia. This is driven in part by differences in topography, climate, and soil conditions, but also in part by social and political processes. Variations in land use in the Amur-Heilong River basin can be seen in arable land distribution, the high percent of unused arable land in Mongolia and Russia which are often affected by fire, and the high percent of degraded lands in Mongolia and China. Degradation and land transformation are more intense in the western parts of the basin, particularly in the Daurian Steppe Eco-Region.
Despite aggressive development throughout the 20th century after modern transportation network, connected countries of the region, the Amur Basin still has retained vast areas of wildland. These large and often contiguous tracts of forest, grasslands, and wetlands offer hope that an opportunity remains to preserve regional biodiversity in the face of continuing development

TABLE: Land-use in the Amur-Heilong basin and its vicinity by country and land-use category [million hectares (percent)]

Amur-Heilong basin portion
Land use category
Cropland
Forest
Urban
Nomadic pasture
Water
Waste-land
Other
Total
Russia
7.9
(4.4)
119.1
(66.7)
0.7
(0.4)
14.8
(8.3)
3.0
(1.7)
16.7
(9.0)
16.5
(9.2)
178.7
Mongolia
0.2
(0.7)
1.6
(5.6)
0.1
(0.3)
21.5
(75.2)
0.1
(0.4)
0.5
(1.7)
4.6
(16.1)
28.6
China
26.3
(27.7)
39.0
(41.0)
2.9
(3.0)
10.3
(10.8)
3.4
(3.6)
9.4
(9.9)
3.8
(4.0)
95.1
Basin total
34.4
(11.4)
159.7
(52.8)
3.7
(1.2)
46.6
(15.4)
9.8
(3.2)
26.6
(8.8)
21.6
(7.2)
302.4

Sources: Statistical yearbooks of respective countries 1997-2001, (by Karakin, Sheingauz).

See land-use trends in three countries

 

Dead calves in overgrazed meadow in Inner Mongolia (Photo by E.Simonov)

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