‘Desertification miracle’: The northern border forest project that builds up China’s ecological foundation
China has doubled down on sustained efforts to do well in the “long-term historical mission of the “three-North Shelterbelt Forest Program” in a bid to counter sandstorms and soil erosion in its northern region.
Over the past four decades, the program has increased the forest area by 30.14 million hectares, according to 2018 data.
China’s “three-North,” the northwest, north and northeast regions, is home to deserts, including the Gobi, and a lot of desertification. The country launched the “three-North Shelterbelt Forest Program” project in 1978.
On Tuesday, President Xi Jinping hailed the work to combat desertification along the northern border as he acknowledged the widespread and hard-to-manage features of the overall desertification situation in the country.
“The construction of major ecological projects like the three-North Shelterbelt Forest Program can only be made possible under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC),” said Xi while visiting a forest farm in Bayannur City in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
He noted the basic target of consolidating the “ecological security barrier” of the north while highlighting the new target of making the project an “indestructible green wall of the northern border.”
China has taken the lead in the global campaign to green the planet, with the highest growth in forest coverage and the largest area of man-made forests. A 2019 finding published in Nature Sustainability showed that at least 25 percent of the foliage expansion since the early 2000s globally came from China, based on data from NASA satellites.
On Monday afternoon, Xi visited Wuliangsu Lake, a rare large grassland lake in the world’s desert and semi-desert area, where he checked out the ecological restoration efforts there.
The lake, which many call the “natural kidney” of the Yellow River, plays a vital role in water adjustment, purification and flood control of the river.
Since the 1990s, Wuliangsu Lake has seen a reduction in its natural recharge water, urban sewage pollution, industrial wastewater pollution and the degradation of its ecological functions, among other issues, prompting local officials to commence preservation campaigns.
According to official data, they have reached the second stage of achievement with the continuous restoration of biodiversity. The lake has now seen 264 kinds of bird species and 22 kinds of fish species.
Xi highlighted the importance of preserving the lake on Monday, urging continuous efforts. “The conservation of Wuliangsu Lake has important implications for the preservation of ecological security of China’s northern region,” he said.
The Chinese president said he hopes to create a “beautiful home” for future generations.
Xi also visited a monitoring center in the Hetao irrigation area in Bayannur on Tuesday, and learned about the informatization methods that can detail local monitoring efforts and promote the efficiency of water resources.
An approximately 2,200-year-old project, the Hetao irrigation area has been diverting water from the Yellow River for farmland irrigation in the Hetao plain in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. It is one of the country’s three largest irrigation areas with a seven-stage irrigation and drainage system.
Xi called for improvement of the project, specifically scientific water diversion in the area, and called for efforts from the entire society. Though China has abundant water resources, the Chinese president still stressed the importance of saving water. He also urged further efforts in “modern and efficient agriculture” that fits the farming features in the region. – CGTN