Nature & Environment

LUISE CHANGCHENG – THE GREAT GREEN WALL OF CHINA

China,is a country in East Asia with a population of around 1.4 billion. This country is officially known as the People’s Republic of China (PRC). China is known for its Giant Pandas, The Yellow Mountains, and The Potala Palace and most importantly the Great Wall of China built during the Ming Dynasty for protecting the Dynasty from enemies during that time and later rebuilt thrice for tourism purpose.

China plans to build the great wall of plants to fight against the biggest enemy of China which is more dangerous than the problem of over population. They are fighting the Gobi desert, a rain shadow desert formed by the Tibetan plateau. It stops the condensed air of Indian Ocean to reach the Gobi desert hence making it completely a dry area. This is also because the main Chinese deserts are locates in this part of the country and want to protect the country from the desert encroachment. In 1978 the Chinese Government launched the “Forest Protection of the Three North” Project in order to protect the North, North East and North West of China from the sandy gush of the desert which is continuously growing. Their goal was to plant 35 hectares of green plants.

China has only 12% of arable land and still has the largest agricultural production in the World. All the usable land is farmed intensively and the Government has invested heavily to increase the yields and conserving the area. It is incredible that such a populous country manages to become self – sufficient in terms of food supply. It’s almost a desert region but thanks to drip irrigation and technological systems that reduce evaporation. People in that region grow vegetables without rain and what’s the result – tomatoes, garlic, onions, watermelons and melons and much more have received international recognition and can complete in taste with fruits grown in Southern Italy. Since every hectare of land is essential, desert area has become the real problem and due to its high rate of spread is considerably be one of China’s major environmental problems and these sandy lands presently covering up to 27% of country’s territory are growing rapidly.

The most insidious enemy – Gobi desert and it is one of the driest desert on Earth. Sand and dust regularly gush into the cities and block the roads and the railways and also causes serious health hazards to the residence. The desert is costing Billions of Dollars per year to the Chinese Government and the need for a new Great Wall of China arose and this time it’s GREEN.

The goal of the project is not only to stop the expansion of the Gobi desert but also to reduce millions of tonnes of Carbon-di-oxide emission. If everything goes as per the plan then by 2050 China’s forested areas will increase from 5% to 15%. The Chinese did not wait long to initiate the project and soon the main legislative party of the country made the decision that every citizen above the age of 11 years must plant at least 3 seedlings to contribute to the common cause. Villagers were paid for planting the seeds and in some places the Government leased private lands for planting the forests.

Entrepreneurs grow and sell the seedlings and the citizens, professionals and volunteers and also the Chinese officials including the Ministers will plant them to support the Government in the project. All of this has reported to reduce poverty in many areas and it definitely made some people very rich and in the recent decades instead of relying on revolutionary favours the Government used Capitalism to grow trees.

There is a method and strategy used by the Government while planting the trees – initial rows were planted with grass and common local trees, second row was planted with drought resistant shrubs and then they have planted the more resistant trees. Different teams are hired for this project and seeds are scattered from the planes. New technology has also made its own contribution. The Chinese have an opportunity to plant trees not only in person but also by using the online platforms. Donations are collected at authorized sites which is used for planting trees.

The project has critics too, their main attacks is directed against the practise of mono-culture. In most cases only one species of trees was planted and the plant diseases destroyed many plants. With the increasing problem of SMOG China wants to protect the cities from the Desert’s wind as well as SMOG. Growing trees was the best solution they found out for both the problems. The Government also proved how growing trees helps solving both the problems.

There may be some issues in executing the plan but we cannot forget that China has recently planted more trees then the rest of the World combined. China’s Great Green Wall is today’s largest man-made forest on Earth.

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