The dynamics of sand-stabilization services in Inner Mongolia, China from 1981 to 2010 and its relationship with climate change and human activities

Li, D., et al., 2018. Ecological Indicators

Original research (primary data)
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Sand-stabilization, the most important ecological service provided by desert and desertified lands, can alleviate severe wind erosion of soil and is induced by both climate change and human activities. However, with a lack of related data, few studies have focused on the spatial differences in driving factors of sand-stabilization services at a large scale. The present study, based on climatic and socioeconomic data, employed Inner Mongolia as a study area and assessed different climatic and human factors affecting changes of the sand-stabilization services from 1981 to 2010. The results showed that the sand-stabilization service of Inner Mongolia has changed significantly over the past 30 years over an area of 563,584 km2, and the spatial distribution of the regions affected exhibited considerable heterogeneity. With respect to regions experiencing a significant increase of sand-stabilization service, climate change, human activities, and the coupled effect of the two accounted for 68.49%, 61.25%, and 60.72%, respectively, of the total area experiencing a significant increase in area. Temperature and afforestation projects were the most important drivers of change in these areas. With respect to regions with a significant decrease of sand-stabilization service, climate change, human activities, and the coupled effect of the two accounted for 51.87%, 68.35%, and 42.64%, respectively, of the total area experiencing a significant decrease in area, which was mainly attributed to the increase of livestock stocking rates and crop area.

Case studies

Basic information

  • Case ID: INT-203-1
  • Intervention type: Created habitats
  • Intervention description:

    afforestation - potentially part of the Beijing–Tianjin sandstorm source control project

  • Landscape/sea scape ecosystem management: Yes
  • Climate change impacts Effect of Nbs on CCI Effect measures
    Soil erosion  Mixed results the soil retention rate (hereinafter referred to as F) was selected as the indicator used to assess sand-stabilization services; F was the ratio of the amount of soil retention (SLsv) to the amount of po- tential soil erosion under bare soil conditions (SLs), which could elim- inate the influence of climate factors and further analyze the role of ecosystem sand-stabilization.
  • Approach implemented in the field: Yes
  • Specific location:

    Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region lies between 37°24′N–53°23′N and 97°12′E–126°04′E in Northern China, and includes a total of 88 counties or banners (hereinafter referred to as counties; Fig. 1 and Table 1).

  • Country: China
  • Habitat/Biome type: Created forest |
  • Issue specific term: Not applicable


  • Notes on intervention effectivness: To determine effectiveness, performed multiple linear regression where sand stabilization was dependent variable and climate and human factors (including afforested area) were the predictor variables. mixed effectiveness because in some regions it was associated with an increase and in others a decrease (and they are interested in these regional differences not just the net outcome over the entire study region) "The results here indicated that areas of afforestation had a marked impact on sand-stabilization services, especially in the areas where F increased significantly." ... "Afforestation had a significant negative correlation with F in county 55 of Eastern Inner Mongolia and county 10 of Central Inner Mongolia; the area of these regions reached to 58,688km2, which might be attributed to damage to natural forests."
  • Is the assessment original?: Yes
  • Broadtype of intervention considered: Not applicable
  • Compare effectivness?: No
  • Compared to the non-NBS approach: Not applicable
  • Report greenhouse gas mitigation?: No
  • Impacts on GHG: Not applicable
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on natural ecosystems: No
  • Impacts for the ecosystem: Not reported
  • Ecosystem measures:
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on people: No
  • Impacts for people: Not reported
  • People measures:
  • Considers economic costs: No
  • Economic appraisal conducted: No
  • Economic appraisal described:
  • Economic costs of alternative considered: No
  • Compared to an alternative: Not reported

Evaluation methodology

  • Type of data: Quantitative
  • Is it experimental: No
  • Experimental evalution done: Not applicable
  • Non-experimental evalution done: Empirical case study
  • Study is systematic: