Table 1. The basic natural and socioeconomic characteristics of the three case study sites.

Hexigten Banner Sonid Left Banner Alxa Left Banner
Natural environment
Vegetation types Forested grassland and typical steppe Desert grassland Desert grassland and desert substeppe
Annual precipitation 350 to 400 mm 165 to 215 mm 64 to 208 mm
Average temperature Annual: 0°C
January: -21.5°C
Annual: 2.7°C ;
January: -20°C
Annual: 7.4°C
January: -11.6°C
Social environment
Nationality Han, Mongolian Mongolian Mongolian
Mode of animal husbandry Livestock grazing combined with agriculture Grazing Grazing combined with farming
Main livestock species Sheep, cattle Sheep, goats, cattle Sheep, goats, camels