China's Loess Plateau is both the largest and deepest loess deposit in the world, and it has long been one of the most severely eroded areas on Earth. Since the 1970s, numerous soil- and water-conservation practices have been implemented: terracing, planting of vegetation, natural vegetation rehabilitation, and check-dam construction. With the implementation of the Grain-for-Green Project in 1999, the Loess Plateau has become the most successful ecological restoration zone in China. However, these large-scale restoration measures and drought have significantly reduced both runoff and sediment from the Loess Plateau. This situation has both advantages and disadvantages for the lower Yellow River. Some local soil erosion has been successfully controlled, but the whole regional ecosystem remains very fragile. Therefore, it is necessary to balance each ecosystem service, for example, by determining the region's vegetation capacity and its spatial distribution for the sustainable development of the socioecological system of the Loess Plateau.


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