Status and challenges of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau's grasslands: an analysis of causes, mitigation measures, and way forward.
Grassland ecosystems on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) provide numerous ecosystem services and functions to both local communities and the populations living downstream through the provision of water, habitat, food, herbal medicines, and shelter. This review examined the current ecological status, degradation causes, and impacts of the various grassland degradation mitigation measures employed and their effects on grassland health and growth in the QTP. Our findings revealed that QTP grasslands are continually being degraded as a result of complex biotic and abiotic drivers and processes. The biotic and abiotic actions have resulted in soil erosion, plant biomass loss, soil organic carbon loss, a reduction in grazing and carrying capacity, the emergence of pioneer plant species, loss of soil nutrients, and an increase in soil pH. A combination of factors such as overgrazing, land-use changes, invasive species encroachment, mining activities, rodent burrowing activities, road and dam constructions, tourism, migration, urbanization, and climate change have caused the degradation of grasslands on the QTP. A conceptual framework on the way forward in tackling grassland degradation on the QTP is presented together with other appropriate measures needed to amicably combat grassland degradation on the QTP. It is recommended that a comprehensive and detailed survey be carried out across the QTP to determine the percentage of degraded grasslands and hence, support a sound policy intervention.