The Mongolia Plateau includes two governments with similar ecological systems but contrasting socioeconomic systems—Inner Mongolia (IM) of China and Mongolia (MG). The variation of biophysical conditions (e.g., climate, biomes) is also significant from east to west, resulting in distinct lifestyles and cultures, particularly in IM.
The Plateau was predominately inhabited by nomadic Mongolians. Yet, the majority of the pastoral households in both MG and IM began settling around permanent towns or immigrated to large urban centers in recent decades. IM has been increasingly influenced by the Han Chinese, while MG was influenced by the former Soviet Union.
In 2007, the number of livestock in MG (the world's second-largest landlocked country) reached 40 million—an increase of 15.7% from 2006—resulting in >60% of its pastureland being overgrazed. A similar change was also observed in the 1980s in IM.
These changes play critical roles in current and future land use and change, which, in turn, determine the level of ecosystem service and societal functions. IM and MG have also developed contrasting political systems since 1979, with much more rapid changes in IM than those in MG, producing distinct land cover changes (LCC).
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