Research (Lanzhou); the Northwest Plateau Institute of Biology (Xining); and the Institute of Biology, Pedology, and Psammology (Urumqi).

The Ministry of Agriculture is charged with administering and promoting the development of agriculture and animal husbandry. The ministry supports research and education through the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and the several agricultural colleges and universities under MOA control. The most important units in this system for the study of grasslands are the Grasslands Research Institute (Hohhot); the Institute of Animal Science (Beijing); the Institute of Animal Science (Lanzhou); the Gansu Grassland Ecological Research Institute (Lanzhou, administered jointly with the Gansu provincial government); the Inner Mongolia College of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (Hohhot); the Gansu Agricultural University (Lanzhou); and the August First Agricultural College (Urumqi).

The State Educational Commission, the highest educational authority in China, administers three colleges and universities that have programs for the study of grassland science: namely, Northeast Normal University (Changchun), Inner Mongolia University (Hohhot), and Lanzhou University (Lanzhou).

This is a brief introduction to the material presented in the following pages. We begin with an overview of the ecological and social systems of the grasslands of northern China (Chapter 1). The literature reviews (Chapters 28) and reports on site visits (Chapters 913) represent the views of the several authors, information from the literature itself, and information obtained from the various institutions in China. In the concluding chapter (Chapter 14), members of the National Academy of Sciences review panel offer their comments on some of the key issues raised in this study, the way these issues have been treated in China and elsewhere, and the challenge scientists throughout the world face in attempting to deal with these issues, now and in the future.

We close this introduction with a word of thanks to our colleagues in China who have made the study of China's grasslands their lives' work and in so doing have given all of us a better understanding of one of world's great natural resources. Our immediate task is to report on the state of grassland sciences in China, but we admit to another motive—namely, to prepare the way for greater collaboration among scientists inside and outside of China who are engaged in this important enterprise.

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