THE CHINESE GREAT GREEN WALL

 

PHOTO CREDIT: National Geographic

China’s ‘Great Green Wall’ Fights Expanding Desert

Throughout the past 40 years, the Earth has lost a third of its arable land to erosion and degradation. China’s efforts to fight the problem have seen mixed results.

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China has been battling large-scale desertification since at least the 1950s, when the young People’s Republic went on a nation-building spree, razing farm and wild lands to build cities and create infrastructure to accommodate a growing population. Such human activity left much of the land unprotected against wind erosion and deposition from the surrounding deserts.

 

“[It’s like what the] American farmer did to cause the Dust Bowl in the 1930s,” says Xian Xue, a leading expert on aeolian desertification in China and professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

 

In a big move to address the problem, in 1978, the Chinese government implemented the Three-North Shelterbelt Project, a national ecological engineering effort that called for the planting of millions of trees along the 2,800-mile border of northern China’s encroaching desert, while increasing the world’s forest by 10 percent. Also known as the “Great Green Wall,” the project’s end date isn’t until 2050; so far, more than 66 billion trees have been planted.

 

However, some say the Great Green Wall hasn’t been the perfect solution.

Read the full story: National Geographic

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.