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Table 1 Summary of different evolving stages of Inner Mongolia as a social-ecological system and their major characteristics

From: Social-ecological transformations of Inner Mongolia: a sustainability perspective

Major characteristics Evolving stages
Traditional nomadism (before the 1900s) Primitive industrialization (1900s–1949) Collectivization (1949–1978) Economic reform (1978–present)
Natural resource and ecosystems Natural grasslands Localized cultivation and land degradation Large-scale cultivation and increasing land degradation Serious degradation due to overgrazing, cultivation, mining, etc.
Production structure Primitive nomadism Traditional nomadism, with limited sedentary pastoralism and cultivation Sedentary pastoralism, with increasing cultivation Privatized sedentary pastoralism, with cultivation, mining, tourism, etc.
Population Very low and sparsely distributed Episodic immigration waves Rapid growth, large-scale immigration Steadily increasing, with low immigration rate
Institution Tribes, clans, and feudalistic empires Tribes, subordination to centralized government Communes, collectivism Privatization, property rights, marketization
Social consciousness Reverence for nature, lamaism (since 16th century) Lamaism and various other trends of thought Socialism, conquering nature Mixture of nature exploitation for profits and nature conservation for sustainability
National/international influence War, commercial trading Immigration, capital Immigration, technology, land use policy Land use policy, common markets