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Grasslands and Grassland Sciences in Northern China
of the important links to geology, meteorology, animal husbandry, or the social sciences. Part of the explanation for this lies in the shortage of time and other resources necessary to produce this report. Partly, we fell victim to the manner in which Chinese scholars are organized to study grasslands and most other subjects as well.
Research and education in grassland science, as in other areas of Chinese science, are assigned to research institutes and university departments under the jurisdiction of separate administrative or bureaucratic "systems" [xitong]. In this case, the three most important systems are under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), and the State Educational Commission (SEdC). Each of these systems tends to segment scientific disciplines and scholarly activities into separate departments, institutes, or laboratories that can be resistant to interactions with other units. We went to China in search of the centers of grassland science; we found what we were looking for; and in most cases the discoveries led us to competent and hard-working scientists with adequate facilities, pursuing credible research within the contours of their established disciplines. Less often did we find a broad, interdisciplinary approach that the panel believes essential for the study of grasslands and other ecosystems in China as elsewhere.
We were reminded, moreover, that the character of Chinese science retains the mark of China's recent history. Structures erected during the 1950s, when China was under Soviet influence, remain in place. The research institutes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Academy of Agricultural Sciences continue to play a dominant role, to deepen research efforts in their respective areas of expertise, and to limit the movement of people and ideas across institutional lines. China and Chinese science were closed to the outside world in the 1960s and early 1970s, at the time ecosystem science was being transformed by new concepts, as exemplified by the International Biological Program (IBP); new technologies, such as remote sensing and computer modeling; and new approaches that integrate the traditional disciplines into holistic views of nature. During the past decade, Chinese scientists have come to appreciate the possibilities offered by these developments, and changes are now under way to adopt and adapt them to Chinese needs. We discovered evidence both that this process is underway and that progress takes time.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences, the leading organization for scientific research in China, maintains 127 institutes for basic and applied research in a wide range of specialties. These institutes are located throughout China, often in areas closely related to their scientific missions. For work in the field of grassland science, the most important institutes and other units under the CAS are the Institute of Botany (Beijing); the Institute of Zoology (Beijing); the Institute of Remote Sensing (Beijing); the Commission for the Integrated Survey of Natural Resources (Beijing); the Bureau of Resources and Environment (Beijing); the Institute of Applied Ecology (Shenyang); the Institute of Desert