Scientific Planning (Ecological restoration and conservation planning for adaptation to climate change)

Published: 24 September 2021
Last edited: 24 September 2021

In Helinge’er County, Systematic Conservation Planning (SCP) was used to plan ecological restoration and protection for the county with consideration of climate change forecast. Firstly, demands of regional ecosystem service functions were determined according to the national ecological function zoning and ecological red lines. Secondly, to ensure the key ecosystem types in each ecological function plot can perform long-lasting and reliable ecological service functions, historic and current status of each ecological function plot was evaluated with literature reviews and field investigations (community surveys), and ecosystem trends were predicted under different climate change scenarios. Community outreach was crucial in understanding how the lived experience of farmers and herders compared to the scientific literature and helped build trust with communities.


Targets of the protection area target were set, and the degree of human influence in the area was considered. Finally, for the important ecological function areas the current ecosystem status was compared to the key ecosystem types that can continue to play their roles. If they were consistent, they were identified as protected areas. Inconsistencies resulted in restoration areas, and the target ecosystem type for restoration could then be determined.




Collection of baseline and monitoring data and knowledge
Legal and policy frameworks, policy advocacy
Management planning
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution
Planning phase

Enabling factors

  • TNC’s partnership with the Inner Mongolia Forestry and Grassland Bureau helped facilitate field investigations with the community.
  • The older population of Helinge’er remembered a time when ecological services were highly functioning and were eager to see ecosystems restored. 
  • Partnerships with philanthropic supporters, Such as Lao Niu Foundation, made this work possible. RbD and community engagement work takes time, and it helps to have funders who understand and invest in longer time frames

Lessons learned

When TNC first began work in Helinge’er, there was no systematic scientific planning approach for this particular ecosystem, its degradation factors, and community needs. SCP is a broad approach, and our teams had not yet executed this level of planning on in arid and semi-arid ecosystems in Inner Mongolia.


We realized engaging with the local communities and developing collaborative relationships with the local experts weas vital to building a long-term restoration project.


Through extensive field surveys, we were able to combine existing scientific models with local expertise and community knowledge. This hybrid approach helped us adapt to the specific needs of the area and its people.

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