Institut for Biologi

Aarhus Universitets segl

J.-C. Svenning

Ecological restoration is the dominant driver of the recent reversal of desertification in the Mu Us Desert (China)

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  • Qingfu Liu, Inner Mongolia University
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  • Qing Zhang, Inner Mongolia University
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  • Yongzhi Yan, Inner Mongolia University
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  • Xuefeng Zhang, Inner Mongolia University, Inner Mongolia University of Science and Technology
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  • Jianming Niu, Inner Mongolia University
  • ,
  • Jens Christian Svenning

Desertification is a major obstacle to global sustainable development, and effective monitoring and an understanding of its driving factors are important for prevention and remediation. Therefore, assessing the role of ecological restoration policies in desertification is extremely urgent, especially quantified policies contribution. Here, we quantify the desertification process in the Mu Us Desert (China) from 1986 to 2015 based on remote sensing images, and using panel data analysis to assess the relative roles of climate, socioeconomic development and ecological restoration as drivers of these dynamics based on meteorological record, socioeconomic statistics and input funds of ecological restoration projects. We found (1) that, between 1986 and 2015, desertification of the Mu Us Desert initially intensified, but then declined, with maximum desertification in 2005, and (2) that, ecological restoration policies represent the dominant factor underlying the mitigation of desertification (60.9%), with a smaller, negative role of socioeconomic development (37.2%) and low impact of climate (1.8%). (3) There was obvious spatial heterogeneity in desertification process, with varying patterns among the three provinces (Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi and Ningxia): Desertification in Inner Mongolia experienced two episodes of intensification and reversals, with the strongest desertification in 1990 and 2005, while it peaked in Shaanxi and Ningxia in 2000 and 2005, respectively, with recovery in the following years. (4) Considerable differences are observed in the three driving factors affecting the desertification dynamics at the provincial scale, with socioeconomic factors (36.4%) accounting for a slightly higher contribution than ecological restoration policies (34.8%) and climate factors (28.9%) in Inner Mongolia. The reversal of desertification has mainly driven by ecological restoration policies in Shaanxi (55.8%) and climatic factors in Ningxia (44.1%). This study reveals the desertification process, and detects the key role of ecological restoration policies in recovering from desertification by using quantitative policy data in the Mu Us Desert. Based on this, we suggest continuing to implement ecological restoration policy to maintain desertification recovery.

TidsskriftJournal of Cleaner Production
StatusUdgivet - sep. 2020

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