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Green forests help combat desertification

By Yang Wanli | China Daily | Updated: 2020-01-15 08:47
A truck passes through the Kubuqi Desert in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region in September. [Photo/Xinhua]

International recognition

China has not only made great efforts in afforestation, its achievements in combating desertification have gained international recognition as a global model.

From 2012 to last year, more than 14 million hectares of sandy land were brought under control, of which about 2.3 million were added last year. In the past 15 years, the coverage of both sandy and desertified areas has declined.

In the area covered by the Three-North Shelterbelt Program-several lines of trees planted to act as windbreaks and prevent expansion of the Gobi Desert-forest coverage rose from 5 percent in 1977 to 13 percent last year. The program has rehabilitated 336,000 square kilometers of desertified land and recovered more than 10 million hectares of arid grassland.

As a result, the average number of sandstorm days per year has fallen from 6.8 to 2.4. Last year, the program was recognized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which presented it with a "Good Practice of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests" award.

Wildlife has also benefited. In Hainan province, the number of Hainan gibbons-classified as "critically endangered" by the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature-rose from seven in 1998 to 29 last year, according to Jin Min, director of the Natural Forest Protection Office at the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

The nation's anti-desertification programs have benefited countries worldwide. In July, during the Seventh Kubuqi International Desert Forum in Kubuqi, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, several participants in the Belt and Road Initiative, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan, met with Chinese businesses to discuss measures to improve their ecosystems through greening.

In recent decades, more than 6,000 sq km of desertified land in Kubuqi have been turned green thanks to the combined efforts of the local government, businesses and social organizations. Their greening campaign created total economic value of more than 500 billion yuan ($72 billion) and provided about 1 million jobs.

During the forum, Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan announced that half the country's operational desertified land will be brought under control by the end of this year and full governance will be achieved by 2050.

"China will spare no efforts to help other developing countries, and contribute efforts to combat desertification," she said. "We will strengthen international cooperation, and call for governments of all countries to play leading roles, promoting more exchange programs and communication among research institutes, social groups and colleges outside our borders."

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