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Prospects for the sustainability of social-ecological systems (SES) on the Mongolian plateau: five critical issues

Formally Refereed
Authors: Jiquan Chen, Ranjeet John, Ge Sun, Peilei Fan, Geoffrey Henebry, María Fernández-Giménez, Yaoqi Zhang, Hogeun Park, Li Tian, Pavel Groisman, Zutao Ouyang, Ginger Allington, Jianguo Wu, Changliang Shao, Amartuvshin Amarjargal, Gang Dong, Garik Gutman, Falk Huettmann, Raffaele Lafortezza, Connor Crank, Jiaguo Qi
Year: 2018
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Southern Research Station
Source: Environmental Research Letters


The Mongolian Plateau hosts two different governments: theMongolian People’sRepublicandthe Inner Mongolia AutonomousRegion, a provincial-level government of the People’sRepublic ofChina.The divergence between these governments haswidened in the past century,mostly due to a series of institutional changes that generated different socioeconomic and demographic trajectories.Due to its high latitude and altitude, the Plateau has been highly sensitive to the rapid changes in global and regional climates that have altered the spatial and temporal distributions of energy andwater.Based on a recent workshop to synthesizefindings on the sustainability of the Plateau amidst socioeconomic and environmental change, we identifyfive critical issues facing the social-ecological systems (SES): (1) divergent and uncertain changes in social and ecological characteristics; (2) declining prevalence of nomadism; (3) consequences of rapid urbanization in transitional economies; (4) the unsustainability of large-scale afforestation efforts in the semi-arid and arid areas of InnerMongolia; and (5) the role of institutional changes inshapingtheSESonthePlateau.Weemphasize that lessons learned in InnerMongolia are valuable, but may not always apply toMongolia.National landmanagement policies and regulations have long-term effects on the sustainability of SES; climate change adaptation policies and practicesmust be tuned to local conditions and should be central to decision-making on natural resourcemanagement and socioeconomic development pathways.


social-ecological systems, mongolian plateau, land use, institutional change, sustainability, global change


Chen, Jiquan; John, Ranjeet; Sun, Ge; Fan, Peilei; Henebry, Geoffrey M; Fern ndez-Gim nez, Mar a E; Zhang, Yaoqi; Park, Hogeun; Tian, Li; Groisman, Pavel; Ouyang, Zutao; Allington, Ginger; Wu, Jianguo; Shao, Changliang; Amarjargal, Amartuvshin; Dong, Gang; Gutman, Garik; Huettmann, Falk; Lafortezza, Raffaele; Crank, Connor; Qi, Jiaguo. 2018. Prospects for the sustainability of social-ecological systems (SES) on the Mongolian plateau: five critical issues. Environmental Research Letters. 13(12): 123004-.