Social-ecological systems across the Asian Drylands Belt (ADB)

Jiquan Chen, Zutao Ouyang, Ranjeet John, Geoffrey M Henebry, Pavel Ya Groisman, Arnon Karnieli, Steven Pueppke, Maira Kussainova, Amarjargal Amartuvshin, Askarbek Tulobaev, Tlektes I. Yespolov, Connor Crank, Ameen Kadhim, Jiaguo Qi, Garik Gutman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In this chapter, we provide an overview of the social-ecological systems (SES) in the Asian Drylands Belt (ADB), a vast geographical region composed of 17 independent countries and six administrative provinces of China. The ADB, which covers 15.4 million km2 and is the home to more than 645 million people, has served as a major human migratory route across Eurasia, was the home of the earliest societal organizations around the Fertile Crescent 9500 years ago, and has long provided the base for trading connections between the East and West via the Silk Road. The ADB (also defined as Greater Central Asia in this volume) retains its strategic importance, and so for historical and contemporary reasons, the SES of the ADB are highly diverse in space and time. We summarize the variable changes in temperature and precipitation over the past six decades and identify divergent dynamics in land cover across the ADB. Taking a macrosystem approach, we also examine the interrelationships among SES indicators by comparing three sub-regions: Drylands East Asia (DEA), Central Asia Core (CAC), and the Middle East (ME). Five pressing issues facing the future sustainability of SES are: (1) worsened water scarcity; (2) intensified land use and land cover changes; (3) climatic extremes and climatic change; (4) globalization and cross-country effects; and (5) unforeseeable institutional changes and shifts. We conclude by proposing a conceptual framework for understanding and modeling the SES. It includes the institutions of the ADB as an essential foundation upon which to base the conventional three pillars of sustainability science: the social system, economic system, and ecological system.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLandscape Dynamics of Drylands across Greater Central Asia: People, Societies and Ecosystems
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
Number of pages35
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-30742-4
ISBN (Print) 978-3-030-30741-7
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2020

Publication series

NameLandscape Series
ISSN (Print)1572-7742
ISSN (Electronic)1875-1210


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