Grassland degradation poses a serious threat to biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human well-being. In this study, we investigated grassland degradation in Zhaosu County, China, between 2001 and 2020, and analyzed the impacts of climate change and human activities using the Miami model. The actual net primary productivity (ANPP) obtained with CASA (Carnegie-Ames-Stanford Approach) modeling, showed a decreasing trend, reflecting the significant degradation that the grasslands in Zhaosu County have experienced in the past 20 years. Grassland degradation was found to be highest in 2018, while the degraded area continuously decreased in the last 3 years (2018–2020). Climatic factors for found to be the dominant factor affecting grassland degradation, particularly the decrease in precipitation. On the other hand, human activities were found to be the main factor affecting improvement of grasslands, especially in recent years. This finding profoundly elucidates the underlying causes of grassland degradation and improvement and helps implement ecological conservation and restoration measures. From a practical perspective, the research results provide an important reference for the formulation of policies and management strategies for sustainable land use.

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