Mongolia ramps up counter-desertification efforts

Source: Xinhua| 2021-10-11 08:35:37|Editor: huaxiahttp://www.xinhuanet.com/english/asiapacific/2021-10/11/c_1310236721.htm

People plant trees in Nalaikh District of Ulan Bator, Mongolia, Oct. 10, 2021. Mongolia has ramped up counter-desertification efforts days after launching a national campaign to plant a billion trees by 2030. On Sunday, foreign ambassadors, diplomats and staff of international organizations in Mongolia, as well as representatives of various fields of Mongolia joined the campaign and planted trees in Nalaikh District of the Mongolian capital. (Photo by Suriya/Xinhua)

“This national tree-planting campaign concerns not only Mongolians but also the whole world. I believe that Mongolia and (the) Mongolian people are contributing to the well-being of mankind via the campaign,” Mongolian President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh told foreign representatives during the event.

The “Billion Trees” campaign was officially launched on Oct. 4. Khurelsukh earlier told United Nations General Assembly that the country aims to combat climate change and desertification through the campaign.

“Yellow dust storms originating from Mongolia reach other countries such as China, South Korea and Japan, causing damage to health, ecosystems and the economy. More than 70 percent of Mongolia’s total territory has been struck by desertification,” Khurelsukh said. “So today we must fight and act together against the desertification, and we must not waste time.”

Planting trees is not only about planting seedlings, he said, as the most important thing is to care for the planted trees.

Hailing the Mongolian president’s initiative, Chinese Ambassador to Mongolia Chai Wenrui said it is a good initiative not only for the future generations of Mongolia, but also for the earth, adding that China is ready to work with Mongolia to combat desertification.

Major companies in Mongolia have committed to joining the national campaign to fulfill their social responsibilities, according to the president.

For example, Mongolian state-owned mining enterprises, Erdenet and Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, are expected to plant 100 million trees and 180 million trees, respectively.

Mongolia is expected to spend at least 1 percent of its GDP (gross domestic product) annually to reach the target in time.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

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