Two men ride on the grassland in North China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region. [Photo by Qi Hongyan/For China Daily]

HOHHOT – North China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region has stepped up efforts to enhance grassland protection, with the average vegetation coverage of its pastures rising to 44 percent in 2018 from 30 percent in 2000.

A total of 68 million hectares of pastures are now banned from grazing and the reserved areas for planting grass remain at over 3.33 million hectares, said Mu Yuan, head of the regional forestry and grassland administration.

The region has some 88 million hectares of grasslands, accounting for one-fifth of the country’s total. The grasslands in the region suffered severe degradation and desertification in the late 1990s due to drought, overgrazing and insufficient protection.

The environment of Inner Mongolia’s grasslands has improved in recent years thanks to a number of ecological projects and measures including controlling grazing and returning farmlands to grasslands and forests.

The region has also improved its legal system for grassland protection.