Land degradation occurs in all kinds of landscapes over the world, but the drivers of land degradation vary from region to region. Identifying these drivers at the appropriate spatial scale is an essential prerequisite for developing and implementing appropriate area-specific policies. In this study, we investigate nine different driving factors in three categories: human disturbance, water condition, and urbanisation. Using partial order theory and the Hasse diagram technique, we analyse the temporal and spatial dynamics of these drivers and identify the major drivers of land degradation at the county level in the Xilingol League, China. Our findings indicate that: (i) in eight out of the region’s 12 counties, human disturbance was the dominant driver responsible for land degradation up to 2000, followed by water conditions, while urbanisation was the dominant driver in only four counties; (ii) the effects resulting from human disturbance and water availability decreased after 2000, while urbanisation became the dominant driver for land degradation in seven counties. The influence of human disturbance in this region has decreased, which suggests that ecological protection policies that were designed to control population and livestock numbers have worked as intended for this region. However, land degradation has continued and new policy measures are required to ease the effect of urbanisation.
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Land Use Policy is an international and interdisciplinary journal concerned with the social, economic, political, legal, physical and planning aspects of urban and rural land use. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the diverse range of disciplines and interest groups which must be combined to formulate effective land use policies.
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