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NW China’s Shaanxi province turns Mu Us Desert into green land

(People's Daily Online)    09:48, August 12, 2020
NW China’s Shaanxi province turns Mu Us Desert into green land
Photo shows the Qilisha demonstration zone for desertification control in Yulin, northwest China’s Shaanxi province. (People’s Daily Online/Wu Chao)

Northwest China’s Shaanxi province has turned the Mu Us Desert, one of the country’s four major deserts, into an oasis.

The province’s Yulin city, which is home to a part of the desert that has existed for 1,200 years, has been reducing desertification by 1.62 percent annually since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, constantly narrowing the desert area.

This success can be attributed to the persistent and unremitting efforts of the local people. Xi Yongcui, now 64 years old, was one of the people who contributed to bringing about this miracle of turning Yulin’s sandy land into green land.

In May 1974, 54 young girls with an average age of 18, including Xi, formed a desertification control company in the city. Thanks to decades of consistent efforts in fighting desertification, the company has managed to turn 295 hectares of sandy land into forests, which have now expanded to over 961 hectares.

What’s more, about 573,333 hectares of shifting sand in the desert have been fixed and semi-fixed. The city now sees less than 10 dusty days a year, compared with over 100 days in the past. More than 1.2 million hectares of grassland can be used for grazing in the city, which is also home to over 113,333 hectares of red dates.

Science and technology are also contributing to the ecological miracle that has come about in Yulin. In 2004, Zhang Yinglong established the Shenmu County Ecological Association in the city’s Shenmu county, with the aim of mobilizing more forces to beat desertification through afforestation.

Zhang has worked together with the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the Chinese Academy of Forestry, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, as well as foreign research institutes to bring about afforestation of 28,533 hectares of sandy land he had contracted.

Relying on CAS academician Shao Mingan’s research results on maintaining the balance of vegetation growth and the soil’s available water capacity, Zhang has restored the sandy land, turning it into forests, meadows, and fertile land.

However, the increased rainfall resulting from ecological improvement is bad for the growth of red dates in the city’s Jiaxian county, as autumn rains always result in dehiscent fruits and reduced output.

Facing this new situation, Du Junfeng, first secretary in charge of poverty alleviation in the county’s Wangningshan village, thought out of the box and came up with the idea of developing the red date wine industry.

“10 kilograms of red dates can be fermented to make 5 kilograms of wine, which can be sold for 500 yuan,” said Zhang Baobao, Party chief of the village, who also runs a wine workshop. He noted that his family earned over 200,000 yuan from the business last year.

So far, over 100 households in the village have run wine workshops, with an annual output of about 450 tons of wine.

From the Mu Us Desert to the banks of the Yellow River, the ecological and economic benefits of desertification control are becoming more prominent.


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(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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