Ecological migration is a policy adopted in 2001 by the Chinese government to relocate a large number of herders, in particular Mongolian herders of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, from their traditional grazing lands to agricultural and urban areas as part of the government's initiative to restore and recover the seriously degraded grassland ecosystem in the Autonomous Region. The term first appeared in 2001 on the electronic newsletter ''Southern Mongolia Watch'' published by the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center , a human rights organization based in New York.
According to SMHRIC, at least 650,000 ethnic Mongolian herders have been displaced as of 2006. The data originally appeared on reports by China's official presses Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television. A paper entitled ''Ecological Migration and Human Rights'' by Enhebatu Togochog, president of SMHRIC, states that human rights of the Mongolian herders have been seriously violated during the Ecological Migration process, and thousands of Mongolian herders lost their land, home and livelihood after the relocation.