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Fig. S1 Location of the study area (northern Shaanxi Province) in China, and priority areas for the application of the GGP.

Fig. S2 Lichen species were clearly present on the soil surface 7 years after cultivation of farmland and grazing were prohibited.

Fig. S3 Changes in total soil moisture (%) to a depth of 6 m during the growing season from 1999 to 2005 in the study plots in northern Shaanxi Province.

Fig. S4 Human impacts on vegetation cover.

Table S1. Total annual precipitation (mm) in the study area from 1998 to 2005

Table S2. Proportion of each tree species in the plantations studied in each of the five counties

Table S3. Vegetation cover in the different plot types in 2005

Table S4. Cover by lichen species in the different types of plots in 2005

Table S5. Impact of afforestation on vegetation cover after 7 years (in 2005) in the study area

Table S6. Contribution of various factors to changes in vegetation cover

Table S7. Vegetation species that appeared after the abandonment of cultivation and the implementation of afforestation in northern Shaanxi Province in 2005 (abandonment or afforestation since 1998)

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