The Chinese government says it will invest more than $300 million a year for the next five years to help conserve endangered grassland in Tibet.

Chinese news media quoted Tibetan agricultural authorities Monday as saying the money will help subsidize the ban on grazing, improvement of livestock breeds and other grassland conservation measures.

An official of Tibet's agricultural ministry, Zhu Chunsheng said about 200,000 farmers and herdsmen will benefit from the subsidies.

The announcement comes after the central government urged local officials to step up efforts to improve living standards and protect property rights of nomadic communities who traditionally depend on grassland for their livelihood.

The official news agency Xinhua quoted China's vice-minister of agriculture, Gao Hongbin, Friday as saying that 90 percent of China's 400 million hectares of grassland have deteriorated to some degree.   

He called for urgent action to protect grasslands, which make up about 40 percent of China's territory.  Most of them are located in the autonomous regions of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia.