Despite progress in the protection of grasslands in China, the ecosystem remains fragile, said Agricultural Minister Han Changfu on Wednesday.
Chinese grasslands cover an area of nearly 400 million hectares, about 40 percent of the total territory, and have suffered pest and rat attacks, fires and drought, among other damage, Han said in a report submitted for review to the bi-monthly legislative session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, which runs until Saturday.
According to the report, 56 grassland fires occurred in 2016, destroying about 37,000 hectares.
In the past few years, the annual average area of the grasslands damaged by rats totaled 26.7 million hectares while that attacked by pests hit 13.3 million hectares, Han said.
Chinese grasslands face serious problems of unauthorized reclamation and requisition, with 9,160 hectares of grasslands destroyed by illegal activities in 2016, according to the report.