Miracles are occurring in northwest China where stretches of deserts are turning green with thriving trees and luxurious grass. Decades of efforts have resulted in triumph in the battle against desertification and China has not only achieved the UN sustainable development goal of zero net land degradation by 2030 well ahead of schedule, but also reversed the trend of desertification and sandification.
The eco warriors have come up with a series of successful practices to halt desertification, like the farmers' group in Minqin, a county in Gansu Province, northwest China. Their success in fighting the approach of the desert offers important experience for desertification prevention and treatment. It is also the Chinese wisdom for global ecological management.
China has the largest desert area in the world, with the largest number of people exposed to deserts and sandstorms. It is home to eight major deserts and four major sandified areas, which cover one fifth of its territory. The western and northwestern parts are seriously affected by desertification.
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the government has given priority to the prevention and control of deserts, which is listed as one of the strategic missions of the nation.
Major ecological projects have been implemented to green the country. The Great Green Wall, also known as the Three-North Shelter Forest Program, is the biggest tree-planting project in the world, creating a green barrier to keep the encroaching desert in the north at bay.
The Beijing-Tianjin Sandstorm Source Control Project has recovered grassland and grown protective forests as a bulwark against the invasion of sandstorms in Beijing and its neighboring Tianjin.
The Grain for Green program has reclaimed overused farmland that is susceptible to erosion. A string of projects, policies and technological and administrative measures have bolstered the work to prevent and control desertification.
Besides the Law on Prevention and Control of Desertification and related regulations, China is also party to international pacts like the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
While governments at various levels play a leading role in the anti-desertification work, public involvement is also growing. The choice of plants to be grown in arid areas and the model of desertification control are taking into consideration local people's economic needs and industrial structures, with a view to increasing local incomes. It makes protection and development of the ecological environment sustainable because of its contribution to a better life for the people.
While China has developed an effective way to fight desertification, it still remains one of the most vulnerable countries. So despite the victories, the work to transform deserts into oases will continue in full force, with advanced warning systems implemented and international cooperation.