Livestock grazing is an important determinant of species diversity and plant growth. Overgrazing is identified as one of the most important disturbances resulting in grassland degradation. Although many restoration practices have been implemented, grazing exclusion is one of the most effective methods to restore degraded grasslands. We explored the impact of five years of grazing exclusion on plant growth and species diversity in four types of grasslands: temperate steppe (TS), swamp meadow (SM), alpine steppe (AS), and alpine meadow (AM). Our results showed that grazing exclusion increased plant height, coverage, biomass, and species diversity in all four grasslands. The aboveground biomass in AM (180.8%), TS (117.3%), and SW (105.9%) increased significantly more than AS (10.1%). Grazing exclusion in AM had the greatest effect on proportion of palatable species, and the increase in palatable species in AM was higher than that of the other grassland types significantly. Species diversity increased significantly within the enclosure in SM (23.9%) and AM (20.8%). Our results indicate that grazing exclusion is an effective management strategy to restore degraded grasslands and it works best in alpine meadow. This study contributes to the growing theoretical basis for grassland management strategies and has a significant effect on sustainable development for grassland resources and pastoral areas.
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