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Sustainability 2019, 11(8), 2261;

Agent-Based Modeling of Sustainable Ecological Consumption for Grasslands: A Case Study of Inner Mongolia, China

Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing 100012, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 February 2019 / Revised: 4 April 2019 / Accepted: 11 April 2019 / Published: 15 April 2019
PDF [4415 KB, uploaded 15 April 2019]


Sustainable ecosystem services consumption is of vital importance to the survival and development of human society. How to balance the conflicts between ecosystem protection and ecosystem services consumption by local residents has been a serious challenge, especially in ecologically vulnerable areas. To explore the reasonable ecosystem services consumption approaches of grassland ecosystems for sustainable land system management, this study takes Hulun Buir of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region as a case study region and develops an EcoC-G (ecological consumption of grassland) model based on herders’ livelihood behaviors using the agent-based model technique to simulate the dynamics of ecosystem pressure, livestock production, and living quality of herders under different grassland management scenarios over the next 30 years. The EcoC-G model links the supply and consumption of grassland ecosystem services by calculating the ecosystem net primary productivity (NPP) supply and household NPP consumption. The model includes three sub-models, namely, the individual status transferring sub-model, the households’ grassland-use decision sub-model, and the ecosystem pressure sub-model. In accordance with multi-objective grassland management practices, the following four land management scenarios were simulated: (1) baseline scenario, (2) increasing household’s living standard, (3) ecosystem protection, and (4) balancing living standard improvement with the protection of the ecosystem. The result indicates that by focusing on the NPP supply and consumption of the grassland ecosystem, the EcoC-G is capable of simulating the impacts of herders’ livelihood behaviors on grassland ecosystems. If timely grassland management strategies are implemented, it is possible to relieve the ecosystem pressure and improve the livelihood of local herders. The specific scenario simulation results are: (1) Under the current grassland management mode, the pasture could never be overgrazed, and herders could achieve the basic living standard, but the accumulated wealth decreased due to the decline of livestock. (2) With grazing control, herders can accumulate wealth by increasing the breeding amount and reducing the marketing rate, but the ecosystem consumption pressure can reach a maximum of 2.3 times. (3) With strict restrictions on the livestock number, the pressure on the ecosystem decreases; however, herders might not achieve basic living standards. (4) Modest regulation leads to rational ecological consumption intervals, meaning the ecosystem pressure will become stable and herders can gradually accumulate wealth with the achievement of basic living standards in advance. View Full-Text
Keywords: agent-based modeling (ABM); ecosystem services; ecosystem services consumption; ecosystem pressure; net primary productivity agent-based modeling (ABM); ecosystem services; ecosystem services consumption; ecosystem pressure; net primary productivity

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Yan, H.; Pan, L.; Xue, Z.; Zhen, L.; Bai, X.; Hu, Y.; Huang, H.-Q. Agent-Based Modeling of Sustainable Ecological Consumption for Grasslands: A Case Study of Inner Mongolia, China. Sustainability 2019, 11, 2261.

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