China has been working to turn its deserts into green forests through the Great Green Wall of China project.
The country’s severe problem of deforestation, which has resulted in desertification, has led to economic losses of around $50 billion per year, environmental refugees, and worsening dust and sand storms.
Desertification has resulted from human activities such as developing infrastructure and tearing down forests. China’s government created the Three-North Shelterbelt Project in 1978, also known as the Green Wall Project, which was a 2,800 mile tree-planting effort that aimed to plant around 88 million acres of forests around the Great Wall by 2050.
To date, over 66 billion trees have been planted. China’s afforestation projects have led to satisfactory results, with frequent moving dunes stabilizing, and sandstorms decreasing by one-fifth between 2009 and 2014.
The Chinese government estimates that the project will end the expansion of desertification caused by human activity within a decade or so and that much of the dry regions will be restored to a more sustainable and productive state by 2050.The Great Green Wall of China project will include an outer belt stretching from 775 to 1,765 feet wide with a sand fence along the perimeter.
Inside, sand-tolerant and low-lying flora will create an artificial environment to stabilize the moving dunes.
The Chinese government has also funded several studies to examine the use of genetically engineered plants, grass strains bred in space, chemical dune stabilization, and agricultural techniques that will allow rice to grow in sandy soil.
In addition, the government will construct a 6-foot-wide gravel platform to hold sand down and encourage a soil crust to form.
However, the project has faced criticism from scholars and experts who suggest that it is not designed efficiently and is weakening due to corruption.
Of all the trees planted so far, only a few have survived. Nonetheless, China’s efforts to turn its deserts green have been significant and have shown some promising results.
The project has the potential to restore the ecological balance in China and prevent further ecological and economic damages.