Environment and Development Economics

Research Article

Do roads lead to grassland degradation or restoration? A case study in Inner Mongolia, China

Xiangzheng Denga1, Jikun Huanga2, Qiuqiong Huanga3, Scott Rozellea4 and John Gibsona5

a1 Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resource Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 11A Datun Road, Chaoyang, Beijing, 100101, China. Email: dengxz.ccap@igsnrr.ac.cn

a2 Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resource Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China. Email: jkhuang.ccap@igsnrr.ac.cn

a3 Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, USA. Email: qhuang@umn.edu

a4 Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University, USA. Email: rozelle@stanford.edu

a5 Department of Economics, University of Waikato, New Zealand. Email: jkgibson@mngt.waikato.ac.nz

Abstract

We use satellite remote sensing data of grassland cover in Inner Mongolia, China to test whether the existence of and the size of roads in 1995 is associated with the nature of the grassland in 2000 and/or if it affects the rate of change of the grassland between 1995 and 2000. The regression results show that the impact of roads on grassland cover depends on the nature of the resource. When the grassland is composed of relatively high quality grassland, roads lead to degradation, whereas when grassland resources are sparse, access to a road results in the restoration of the resource.

(Received April 28 2010)

(Revised December 14 2010)

(Accepted April 25 2011)

(Online publication August 02 2011)

Footnotes

This research was supported by the National Key Programme for Developing Basic Science (2010CB950904), the National Scientific Foundation of China (70873118, 40801231, 41071343) and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2008BAC43B01, 2008BAK50B06, 2008BAC44B04). Data support from the data interpretation team led by Jiyuan Liu is greatly appreciated.