Skip Navigation Links
Journal of Environmental Accounting and Management
Dmitry Kovalevsky (editor), Jiazhong Zhang(editor)
Dmitry Kovalevsky (editor)

Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS), Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, Fischertwiete 1, 20095 Hamburg, Germany

Fax: +49 (0) 40 226338163 Email:

Jiazhong Zhang (editor)

School of Energy and Power Engineering, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, Shaanxi Province 710049, China

Fax: +86 29 82668723 Email:

Measuring the Effectiveness of Four Restoration Technologies Applied in a Degraded Alpine Swamp Meadow in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, China

Journal of Environmental Accounting and Management 9(1) (2021) 59--74 | DOI:10.5890/JEAM.2021.03.006

Xiaoyan Wei$^{1,2}$, Xufeng Mao$^{1,3}$ , Wenyin Wang$^{1,4}$, Yaqin Tao$^{5}$, Zhifa Tao$^{5}$, Yi Wu$^{3}$, Jiankang Ling$^{3}$

$^1$ Academy of Plateau Science and Sustainability College Geography Science, Qinghai, Xining 810000, China

$^2$ School of Economics and Management, Qinghai Normal University, Qinghai, Xining 810000, China

$^3$ Key Laboratory of Physical Geography and Environmental Processes, School of Geographcial Science, Qinghai Normal University, Qinghai, Xining 810000, China

$^4$ School of Life Science, Qinghai Normal University, Qinghai, Xining 810000, China

$^5$ Management Center of Huangshui National Wetland Park, Xining 810000, China

Download Full Text PDF



To assess the effectiveness of the four restoration techniques (one mono-technology, three combined technologies) on a degraded meadow swamp in Three-river Source Region, we developed a Biology-Environment-Service assessment framework that incorporates 12 indicators from plant, soil to ecosystem services. Two years (2018 and 2019) field monitoring and experimental data revealed that a good restoration effect achieved by the ecological restoration project. The average comprehensive restoration index (CRI)of four restoration sites are, respectively, 0.68, 0.89, 0.71 and 0.84, belonging to a level of GOOD or EXCELLENT. Restoration effect of ensemble restoration technologies is about 4.4%-30% better than that of single fencing. The vegetation restoration was about 2.8 times faster than that of soil and ecosystem services under the same restoration technology during research periods. Restoration effect presented significant difference in respond to various restoration techniques. A combination restoration measue (Fencing + water reservation + reseeding) is recommended as a potential effective restoration method for early stage of alpine wetland restoration.


We would like to repress our gratitude to Xiaoxia Su, Yupeng Chen, Yanchun Zhang and Xianxia Bao for their support in sampling and experiments. Thank the editor and reviewers for their time spent on reviewing our manuscript and their comments helping us improving the article.


  1. [1]  Alhassan, A.R.M., Ma, W., Li, G., Jiang, Z., Wu, J., and Chen, G. (2018), Response of soil organic carbon to vegetation degradation along a moisture gradient in a wet meadow on the Qinghai--Tibet Plateau, Ecol $& $ Evol, 8(23), 11999-12010.
  2. [2]  Bai, Y.F. and Wang, Y. (2017), Long-term ecological research and demonstrations support protection and sustainable management of grassland ecosystems, Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 32(8), 910-916.
  3. [3]  Cai, H., Yang, X., and Xu, X. (2015), Human-induced grassland degradation/restoration in the central Tibetan Plateau: The effects of ecological protection and restoration projects, Ecol. Eng., 83, 112.
  4. [4]  Cao, G., Tang, Y., Mo, W., Wang, Y., Li, Y., and Zhao, X. (2004), Grazing intensity alters soil respiration in an alpine meadow on the Tibetan plateau. Soil Biol Biochem, 36(2), 237-243.
  5. [5]  Cao, J.J., Holden, N.M., Adamowski, J.F., Deo, R.C., Xu, X.Y., and Feng, Q. (2018), Can individual land ownership reduce grassland degradation and favor socioeconomic sustainability on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau? Environ Sci Policy, 89, 192-197.
  6. [6]  Cooper, D.J., Kaczynski, K.M., Sueltenfuss, J., et al., (2017), Mountain wetland restoration: the role of hydrologic regime and plant introductions after 15 years in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, USA, Ecol Eng. 101, 46-59.
  7. [7]  Bennett, E.M., Cramer, W., Begossi, A., Cundill, G., D\{\i}az, S., Egoh, B.N., and Lebel, L. (2015), Linking biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human well-being: three challenges for designing research for sustainability, Curr Opin Env Sust, 14, 76-85.
  8. [8]  Deng, B., Li, Z., Zhang, L., Ma, Y., Li, Z., Zhang, W., and Siemann, E. (2016), Increases in soil CO$_{2}$ and N$_{2}$O emissions with warming depend on plant species in restored alpine meadows of Wugong Mountain, China. J SoilSediment, 16(3), 777-784.
  9. [9]  Dong, S.K., Li, J.P., Li, X.Y., Wen, L., Zhu, L., Li, Y.Y., Ma, Y.S. Shi, J.J., Dong, Q.M., and Wang, Y.L. (2010), Application of design theory for restoring the ``black beach degraded rangeland at the headwater areas of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Afr. J. Agric. Res., 5, 3542-3552.
  10. [10]  Dong, S.K., Wen, L., Yang, Z.F., Liu, S. L., Lassoie, J.P., Zhang, X.F., Yi, S.L., and Li, J.P. (2011), Vulnerability of world-wide pastoralism to global changes and interdisciplinary strategies for sustainable pastoralism, Ecol Soc., 16, 10.
  11. [11]  Dong, S.K., Wen, L., Li, Y.Y., et al., (2012), Soil-quality effects of grassland degradation and restoration on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, SSSA, 76(6), 2256-2264.
  12. [12]  Dong, S.K., Wang, X.X., Liu, S.L., Li, Y.Y., Su, X.K., Wen, L., and Zhu, L. (2015), Reproductive responses of alpine plants to grassland degradation and artificial restoration in the Qinghai--Tibetan Plateau, Grass Forage Sci, 70(2), 229-238.
  13. [13]  Dong, S. and Sherman, R. (2015), Enhancing the resilience of coupled human and natural systems of alpine rangelands on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Rangeland J, 37(1) i-iii. {}.
  14. [14]  Dong, S., Shang, Z., Gao, J., and Boone, R.B. (2020), Enhancing sustainability of grassland ecosystems through ecological restoration and grazing management in an era of climate change on Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Agriculture, Ecosystems $&$ Environment, 287, 106684.
  15. [15]  Duchemin, E., Lucotte, M., and Canuel, R. (1999), Comparison of static chamber and thin boundary layer equation methods for measuring greenhouse gas emissions from large water bodies, Environ Sci Tech, 33, 350-357.
  16. [16]  Fan, Y.J., Hou, X.Y., Shi, H.X., and Shi, S.L. (2013), Effects of grazing and fencing on carbon and nitrogen reserves in plants and soils of alpine meadow in the three headwater resource regions, Russ. J. Ecol, 44, 80-88
  17. [17]  Feng, X., Fu, B., Lu, N., Zeng, Y., and Wu, B. (2013), How ecological restoration alters ecosystem services: an analysis of carbon sequestration in Chinas Loess Plateau, Sci. Rep., 3, 2846.
  18. [18]  Gao, X., Dong, S., Xu, Y., Wu, S., Wu, X., Zhang, X., and Shang, Z. (2019), Resilience of revegetated grassland for restoring severely degraded alpine meadows is driven by plant and soil quality along restoration time: A case study from the Three-river Headwater Area of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. AGEE.
  19. [19]  Grigulis, K, Lavorel, S, Krainer, U, et al., (2013), Relative contributions of plant traits and soil microbial properties to mountain grassland ecosystem services, J Ecol, 101(1), 47-57.
  20. [20]  Gu, Y., Bai, Y., Xiang, Q., Yu, X., Zhao, K., Zhang, X., and Chen, Q. (2018), Degradation shaped bacterial and archaeal communities with predictable taxa and their association patterns in Zoige wetland at Tibet plateau, Scientific reports, 8(1), 3884.
  21. [21]  Guo, W., Bi, S., Kang, J., Zhang, Y., Long, R., Huang, X., and Anderson, R.C. (2018), Bacterial communities related to 3-nitro-1-propionic acid degradation in the rumen of grazing ruminants in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Anaerobe, 54, 42-54.
  22. [22]  Guo, B., Zhou, Y., Zhu, J., Liu, W., Wang, F., Wang, L., and Jiang, L. (2016), Spatial patterns of ecosystem vulnerability changes during 2001--2011 in the three-river source region of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China, Journal Arid Land, 8(1), 23-35.
  23. [23]  Harris, R.B. (2010), Rangeland degradation on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau: a review of the evidence of its magnitude and causes, Journal Arid Enviro, 74(1), 1-12.
  24. [24]  Hector, A. and Bagchi, R. (2007), Biodiversity and ecosystem multifunctionality, Nature, 448, 188-190.
  25. [25]  Huang, W., Bruemmer, B., and Huntsinger, L. (2016), Incorporating measures of grassland productivity into efficiency estimates for livestock grazing on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau in China, Ecol Econ, 122, 1-11.
  26. [26]  Huang, L., Shao, Q., Liu, J., and Lu, Q. (2018), Improving ecological conservation and restoration through payment for ecosystem services in Northeastern Tibetan Plateau, China, Ecosyst Serv., 31, 181-193.
  27. [27]  Kato, T., Tang, Y., Gu, S., Cui, X., Hirota, M., Du, M., and Oikawa, T. (2004), Carbon dioxide exchange between the atmosphere and an alpine meadow ecosystem on the Qinghai--Tibetan Plateau, China, AgrForest Meteorol, 124(1-2), 121-134.
  28. [28]  Li, Y., Dong, S., Liu, S., Zhou, H., Gao, Q., Cao, G., and Zhao, H. (2015), Seasonal changes of CO2, CH4 and N$_{2}$O fluxes in different types of alpine grassland in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau of China, Soil BiolBiochem, 80, 306-314.
  29. [29]  Li, J., Yang, C., Liu, X., and Shao, X., 2018. Inconsistent stoichiometry response of grasses and forbs to nitrogen and water additions in an alpine meadow of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, AGEE,
  30. [30]  Li, W., Cao, W., Wang, J., Li, X., Xu, C., and Shi, S. (2017), Effects of grazing regime on vegetation structure, productivity, soil quality, carbon and nitrogen storage of alpine meadow on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Ecol Eng., 98, 123-133.
  31. [31]  Li, W., Liu, Y., Wang, J., Shi, S., and Cao, W. (2018), Six years of grazing exclusion is the optimum duration in the alpine meadow-steppe of the north-eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Scientific reports, 8(1), 17269.
  32. [32]  Liu, X.J., Mao, X.F., Wei, X.Y., et al, (2017), Ecological Restoration Assessment Based on the PSRS Model: A Case Study of Huangshui National Wetland Park, Journal of Environmental Accounting and Management, 5(4), 281-297.
  33. [33]  Lu, X., Kelsey, K.C., Yan, Y., Sun, J., Wang, X., Cheng, G., and Neff, J.C. (2017), Effects of grazing on ecosystem structure and function of alpine grasslands in Qinghai--Tibetan Plateau: a synthesis, Ecosphere, 8(1).
  34. [34]  Luo, J., Liu, X., Yang, J., Liu, Y., and Zhou, J. (2018), Variation in plant functional groups indicates land degradation on the Tibetan Plateau, Sci. Rep., 8(1), 17606.
  35. [35]  L\"{u}, Y., Fu, B., Feng, X., Zeng, Y., Liu, Y., Chang, R., and Wu, B. (2012), A policy-driven large scale ecological restoration: quantifying ecosystem services changes in the Loess Plateau of China, PloS one, 7(2), e31782.
  36. [36]  Ma, L., Yao, Z., Zheng, X., Zhang, H., Wang, K., Zhu, B., and Liu, C. (2018), Increasing grassland degradation stimulates the non-growing season CO$_{2}$ emissions from an alpine meadow on the Qinghai--Tibetan Plateau. Environ Sci Pollut R, 25(26), 26576-26591.
  37. [37]  Mao, X.F., Wei, X.Y., Jin, X., Tao, Y.Q., and Zhang, Z.F. (2019), Monitoring Urban Wetlands Restoration in Qinghai Plateau: Integrated Performance from Ecological Characters, Ecological Processes to Ecosystem Services, Ecol Indic, 101, 623-631.
  38. [38]  Mao, X.F., Wei, X.Y., Bernard, E., Wei, X.j., Tao, Y.Q., and Zhang Z.F. (2020), Network-based Perspective on Water-air Interface GHGs Flux on a Cascade Surface-flow Constructed Wetland in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, China, Ecological Engineering, 151, 105862.
  39. [39]  Ohgushi, T., Wurst, S., and Johnson, S.N. (Eds.) (2018), Aboveground--Belowground Community Ecology (Vol. 234). Springer Press.
  40. [40]  Olander, L.P., Johnston, R.J., Tallis, H., Kagan, J., Maguire, L.A., and Polasky, S. (2018), Palmer, M. Benefit relevant indicators: Ecosystem services measures that link ecological and social outcomes, Ecol Indic, 85, 1262-1272.
  41. [41]  Qu, B., Zhang, Y., Kang, S., and Sillanp\"{a}\"{a}, M. (2019), Water quality in the Tibetan Plateau: Major ions and trace elements in rivers of the ``Water Tower of Asia, Sci Total Environ., 649, 571-581.
  42. [42]  Ran, Y., Li, X., and Cheng, G. (2018), Climate warming over the past half century has led to thermal degradation of permafrost on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Cryosphere, 12(2).
  43. [43]  Sheng, W., Zhen, L., Xiao, Y., & Hu, Y., 2019. Ecological and socioeconomic effects of ecological restoration in Chinas Three Rivers Source Region. Sci Total Environ. $650$, 2307-2313.
  44. [44]  Su, X.K., Wu, Y., Dong, S.K., Wen, L., Li, Y.Y., and Wang, X.X. (2015), Effects of grassland degradation and re-vegetation on carbon and nitrogen storage in the soils of the Headwater Area Nature Reserve on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China, JMS, 12(3), 582-591.
  45. [45]  Taddeo, S. and Dronova, I. (2018), Indicators of vegetation development in restored wetlands. Ecol Indic, 94, 454-467.
  46. [46]  Tremblay, A., Varfalvy, L., Garneau, M., and Roehm, C. (Eds.). (2005), Greenhouse gas Emissions-Fluxes and Processes: hydroelectric reservoirs and natural environments, Springer Science & Business Media.
  47. [47]  Wang, G., Wang, Y., Li, Y., and Cheng, H. (2007), Influences of alpine ecosystem responses to climatic change on soil properties on the Qinghai--Tibet Plateau, China, Catena, 70(3), 506-514.
  48. [48]  Wang, J., Wang, G., Hu, H., and Wu, Q. (2010), The influence of degradation of the swamp and alpine meadows on CH$_{4}$ and CO$_{2}$ fluxes on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Environ Earth Sci., 60(3), 537-548.
  49. [49]  Wang, P., Lassoie, J.P., Morreale, S.J., and Dong, S. (2015), A critical review of socioeconomic and natural factors in ecological degradation on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China, Rangeland J, 37(1), 1-9.
  50. [50]  Wang, P., Wolf, S.A., Lassoie, J.P., Poe, G.L., Morreale, S.J., Su, X., and Dong, S. (2016), Promise and reality of market-based environmental policy in China: Empirical analyses of the ecological restoration program on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Global Environ Chang, 39, 35-44.
  51. [51]  Wang, X., Dong, S., Sherman, R., Liu, Q., Liu, S., Li, Y., and Wu, Y. (2015), A comparison of biodiversity--ecosystem function relationships in alpine grasslands across a degradation gradient on the Qinghai--Tibetan Plateau, Rangeland J, 37(1), 45-55.
  52. [52]  Wen, L., Jinlan, W., Xiaojiao, Z., Shangli, S., and Wenxia, C. (2018), Effect of degradation and rebuilding of artificial grasslands on soil respiration and carbon and nitrogen pools on an alpine meadow of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Ecol Eng., 111, 134-142.
  53. [53]  Wen, L., Dong, S., Li, Y., Li, X., Shi, J., Wang, Y., and Ma, Y. (2013), Effect of degradation intensity on grassland ecosystem services in the alpine region of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China, PloS one, 8(3), e58432.
  54. [54]  Wu, G.L., Du, G.Z., Liu, Z.H., and Thirgood, S. (2009), Effect of fencing and grazing on a Kobresia-dominated meadow in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Plant Soil, 319(1-2), 115-126.
  55. [55]  Wu, J., Feng, Y., Zhang, X., Wurst, S., Tietjen, B., Tarolli, P., and Song, C. (2017), Grazing exclusion by fencing non-linearly restored the degraded alpine grasslands on the Tibetan Plateau, Sci. Rep. 7, 15202.
  56. [56]  Xin, H. (2008), A green fervor sweeps the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Science, 321, 633-635.
  57. [57]  Xue, X., Guo, J., Han, B., Sun, Q., and Liu, L. (2009), The effect of climate warming and permafrost thaw on desertification in the Qinghai--Tibetan Plateau, Geomorphology, 108(3-4), 182-190.
  58. [58]  Xue, Z., Lyu, X., Chen, Z., Zhang, Z., Jiang, M., Zhang, K., and Lyu, Y. (2018), Spatial and Temporal Changes of Wetlands on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau from the 1970s to 2010s, Chinese Geogr S, 28(6), 935-945.
  59. [59]  Yang, D.X., Mao, X.F., Wei, X.Y., et al. (2020), Water--air interface greenhouse gas emissionsCO$_{2}$, CH$_{4}$ and N$_{2}$Owere amplified by continuous dams in an urban river in Qinghai--Tibet Plateau, China. Water. 2020.12.759.
  60. [60]  Yang, Z., Zhu, Q., Zhan, W., Xu, Y., Zhu, E., Gao, Y., and Peng, C. (2018), The linkage between vegetation and soil nutrients and their variation under different grazing intensities in an alpine meadow on the eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Ecol Eng, 110, 128-136.
  61. [61]  Zhao, Y., Wang, X., Ou, Y., Jia, H., Li, J., Shi, C., and Liu, Y. (2019), Variations in soil $\delta $13C with alpine meadow degradation on the eastern Qinghai--Tibet Plateau, Geoderma, 338, 178-186.
  62. [62]  Zhang, C., Liu, G., Song, Z., Wang, J., & Guo, L., 2018. Interactions of soil bacteria and fungi with plants during long-term grazing exclusion in semiarid grasslands. Soil Biol Biochem, 124, 47-58.
  63. [63]  Zhang, Y., Dong, S., Gao, Q., Liu, S., Zhou, H., Ganjurjav, H., and Wang, X. (2016), Climate change and human activities altered the diversity and composition of soil microbial community in alpine grasslands of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Sci Total Environ, 562, 353-363.
  64. [64]  Zhen, L., Du, B., Wei, Y., Xiao, Y., and Sheng, W. (2018), Assessing the effects of ecological restoration approaches in the alpine rangelands of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Environ Res Lett, 13(9), 095005.
  65. [65]  Zhou, Y., Jiao, S., Li, N., Grace, J., Yang, M., Lu, C., and Lei, G. (2018), Impact of plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae) on soil properties and nitrous oxide fluxes on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, PloS one, 13(9), e0203691.