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Wageningen University (2019)

Effects of Land-Use Change on Grassland Ecosystem Services in Inner Mongolia and Their Implications for Livelihoods and Sustainable Management

Bingzhen Du

Titre : Effects of Land-Use Change on Grassland Ecosystem Services in Inner Mongolia and Their Implications for Livelihoods and Sustainable Management

Auteur : Bingzhen Du

Université de soutenance  : Wageningen University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2019

Résumé partiel
Grassland degradation has become a major challenge in many parts of the world, especially in arid or semi-arid areas, such as the Chinese Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region (IMAR). Previous studies of the grassland ecosystems in IMAR focused on climate change and its environmental consequences or on the land-use conflicts between agrarian communities and nomads. For better planning and management, a more integrated analysis of the consequences of land-use change for the livelihood dependence and other benefits (services) of the grasslands in IMAR is needed.

Studies on ecosystem services of IMAR’s grasslands are usually based on remote sensing data (TM images) to assess the total value of the grassland ecosystem services using benefit transfer. Thus far, to my knowledge no study collected original data on the detailed use of ecosystem services by pastoralists on the Mongolian Plateau or on their livelihood dependence on these services at the household level. Also, no data is available on the changes over time in contrasting situations for different grassland types (like meadow, steppe and desert steppe). I therefore aim to analyse the interactions between the people and the ecosystems in IMAR in an integrated manner, and especially focus on analysing the different utilization patterns of ecosystem services and the livelihood dependence of local herders and other stakeholders in selected study sites. The ultimate goal of my study is to contribute to sustainable management of the IMAR’s ecosystems.

To achieve the goal of my PhD study, the changes in land use, household consumption patterns and their impacts have been addressed and investigated for four selected study sites : Hulun Buir, Xilin Gol, Ordos and Alxa Right. These sites are in a ‘transect’ from southwest to northeast to capture the gradient in use of ecosystem services in IMAR. The methodological framework of this research combines quantitative and qualitative tools to analyse ecosystem services. It specifies an integrative approach in specific spatial and temporal contexts to evaluate trade-offs between human activities, use of ecosystem services and human well-being. This framework enables to analyse the effects of multiple factors (e.g. policies or climate and geographic conditions) on utilization patterns of ecosystem services and the influence on society. The data used to apply the framework stems from a bottom-up approach by using household surveys and other local field data.

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