NW China’s Shaanxi province turns desert into oasis

By Gong Shijian, People’s Daily
Northwest China’s Shaanxi province has created an oasis out the Mu Us Desert, one of the four major deserts in China, turning 93.24 percent of the desertified land into a sea of green, according to the provincial forestry bureau.
This means that the desert, which has existed for over 1,000 years, will vanish from the map of Shaanxi under generations of efforts in taming desertification.
Shaanxi’s Yulin, where a part of the desert is located, has been reducing desertification by 1.62 percent annually since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, which constantly narrowed the Mu Us Desert. Over the past years, the forest coverage in the city has been lifted from only 0.9 percent to 34.8 percent, extending the green part of Shaanxi 400 kilometers northward.
The change of the desert reflects the relationship between human and nature. During the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties (220-589), the place was a fertile land with thriving grasslands. However, due to unrestricted exploitation, a small piece of sandy land appeared in Tang Dynasty (618-907) and started to encroach into the grassland. By the founding of the PRC, the desert has developed into one that covered an area of 42,200 square kilometers.
The ecological miracle of the Mu Us Desert is attributable to the persistent and unremitting efforts of local people.
Fifty-four militiawomen with an average age of 18, removed more than 800 sand dunes in Bulanghe township of Yulin, and built 30 windbreak and sand fixation forest belts there.
A local farmer named Shi Guangyin founded the first farmers’ company in the country focusing on sand control, and battling desertification remains a lifelong career for him. In over 30 years, “national desertification control hero” Niu Yuqin, a villager in Yulin’s Jingbian county, restored green land covering 7,333 hectares.
Such stories of local people dedicating themselves to sand control for generations are widely circulated in the local community, and it was their quiet but persistent efforts that created the “Mu Us Oasis”.
China deserves the respect from all countries in the world for fighting against desertification, said an official with the United Nations.
The transformation of the Mu Us Desert is inspiring. Environmental protection is a long-term task in China and ecological restoration a cause that will benefit many generations to come and lays a foundation for long-term development.
By accelerating ecological progress and tackling ecological and environmental problems, China is sure to create a more beautiful environment with a bluer sky, greener mountains and clearer waters.

Photo shows past and present of the Mu Us Desert. Photo from Weibo

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