3 Times China Turned Deserts into Complete Forest Areas

Land desertification threatens the survival and development of two-third of countries and regions and one-fifth of the world’s population. However, many countries (with China taking the lead) are taking the initiative to counter desertification. Growing a company of trees in a desert area seems to be a fantasy, but, it’s an actual reality. It is a process that a lot of countries living in desert areas have embraced, for example, UAE and Israel.

Public information shows that China’s desert land area has maintained a net decrease since 2004 for 3 consecutive monitoring periods. In the following article, you’ll find out 3 Chinese deserts that have turned green in recent years.

Desertification in China

China is the country with the largest area of ​​desertification in the world and is severely affected by sandstorms. A quarter of its land is desert. Nearly 40% of the country’s local counties and nearly 25% of the poor population are located in the northwestern sandy areas. 

When the desert was at its most rampant, it expanded by almost 10,000 square kilometers every year. Desertification, like a sharp sword, hangs high above this country. China, therefore, experienced lots of severe sandstorms.

In a bid to counter the effect, the country began to research on cost effective means of using science, technology and innovative ideas many years ago. The country’s first desert scientific research station was established in Zhonghe, Ningxia, in 1954. The wheatgrass grid sand control technology was proposed for the first time and was praised by the world.

Even in recent years, China has accumulated a lot of knowledge and technology in combating desertification and land degradation.

So, let’s see 3 China’s deserts that have been made to become forests.

1. The Kubuqi Desert

It is China’s seventh-largest desert. It has also been designated as a global desert “eco-economic demonstration zone” by the United Nations Environment Program. 

At present, one-third of this area has been greened, and the vegetation coverage has increased from 3% 30 years ago to over 53%, and the biodiversity has been significantly restored. 

At the same time, the per capita income of farmers and herdsmen in the Kubuqi area has increased from less than 400 Yuan to more than 10,000 Yuan, and the people in the more than 100,000 sandy areas have completely lifted themselves out of poverty.

2. The Mu Us Sandy Land

The Mu Us Desert is a miraculous existence. Not only has the desertification not continued to expand, but the ecology is getting better, and it may disappear completely soon. The Mu Us Desert is located between Shaanxi Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, covering an area of ​​42,200 square kilometers.

The Mu Us Desert has more precipitation (250-400 mm), which is conducive to plant growth. It began to accumulate sand from the Tang Dynasty to a vast desert in the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

新华社照片,中国,2019年8月16日 陕西靖边:沙漠中的森林城市 8月16日无人机拍摄的靖边县城旁的西草滩湿地公园。 20世纪60年代,位于毛乌素沙漠南缘的陕西省榆林市靖边县郊半公里外就是寸草不生的流沙。经过几十年的“防风固沙”治理后,如今的靖边县森林覆盖率达到38%,城区绿化覆盖率达40%,许多沙地成了林地、草地和良田,实现了从沙进人退到人进沙退、从荒山秃岭到绿满山川的蜕变。 新华社记者 陶明 摄

In ancient times, this area was a good pasture with fertile aquatic plants and pleasant scenery. Later, due to unreasonable reclamation, climate change, and wars, the vegetation on the ground was lost, and sand was raised on the spot to form the later desert.

3. Southern Edge of the Tengger Desert in Gansu

There is a sand barrier of more than 2,000 acres of grass square grids in this area, which has become a solid line of defense against the expansion of desertification. This grass square was laid by the world’s first “multifunctional three-dimensional sand fixation vehicle” independently developed and manufactured by Gansu Construction Investment. 

The “sand fixation vehicle” has 11 utility model technologies and invention patents. It lays the grass grids at a speed of one vehicle for 1 hour to lay 5 acres of grass grid sand barriers – with a depth of 15 cm of grass insertion and 30 cm of grass sand barriers. 

The speed of the three-dimensional sand fixation vehicle is 50 times that of artificial sand fixation, which fundamentally solves the problem that the speed of desertification is faster than the speed of artificial sand control.

Final Thoughts

Apart from the above-mentioned greening projects, China began a large-scale artificial forestry ecological project in 1978 called Three North Shelterbelt or Great Green Wall. The ongoing project was built in the northwest, north, and northeast regions of China, with a total construction area of ​​4.069 million square kilometers. 

The size is the largest desert control project in the world. It is understood that in the sandy desert area, the contribution rate of the construction of the Three North Shelterbelt to the reduction of desert land is about 15%. China hopes to complete the project by 2050.


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