News Release

Chinese herdsmen dedicated to turn desert into oasis

Time:2016-06-15 Browse Number:571 Source:CCTV-NEWS

(CCTV-NEWS, June 15, 2016) About a quarter of the Earth's surface is covered by 40 million square kilometers of deserts. More than 110 countries and about 1 billion people around the world have been affected by desertification. On June 17th, the world will mark the day to combat desertification and draught. Ahead of it, we travel to the Kubuqi desert in Inner Mongolia and tells us how people living there turn deserts into hospitable habitats like oases.

45-year old Zhang Xiwang has been planting drought-resistant willow trees in Kubuqi desert for more than 10 years. He has even discovered a new way to improve their survival rate --by planting them near hidden sources of underground water. But finding underground water takes time, and experience.


45-year old Zhang Xiwang has been planting drought-resistant willow trees in Kubuqi desert for more than 10 years. He has even discovered a new way to improve their survival rate --by planting them near hidden sources of underground water.

"People from the desert can often spot where the water is. When you see grasses in low-lying areas, it normally means there is water underneath and it's not deep. You can usually find it at a depth of around 7 or 8 meters," Zhang said.

Re-forestation efforts in the Kubuqi Desert have transformed the livelihoods of more than 100,000 farmers and herdsmen.

There are over 400 teams like Zhang Xiwang's that plant trees. More than 10,000 people are involved.

The teams can earn up to 200,000 RMB each year. Enough to provide each team member with a median annual income of 5,000 renminbi.

"The government has introduced a special policy to accelerate the industrialization of ecological construction. We encourage enterprises and farmers or herdsmen to work on reforestation by providing an allowance up to 100 yuan per 600 square meters," said Jiang Youze, from Hangjinqi County.

Moving dunes make up around 80% of Kubuqi desert. But now one third of the area is already covered by trees and grassland, especially along the road here. But getting a tree to survive in these condition takes a lot of efforts.

Walking on the desert takes longer than usual.

Driving along the road, we meet another team. Gao Maohu started planting trees back in 1998.

"I often carry lots of food and water, and sometimes I can't reach where I want. If your destination is 10 kilometers away, you might have to walk 17 or 18 kilometers because you need to go around the dunes," Gao said.

There is no shade and it's burning hot in the desert. We normally carry 8 piles of these and climb up. There is no place to rest.

Kubuqi desert covers an area of 1.45 million hectares in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. It is China's seventh biggest desert and the nearest desert to Beijing.

In the past, local herdsmen could do nothing but watch on as the sandy dunes slowly encroached on their homes.

"Dunes can move far distances,  up to hundred meters every year. We used to have to  move every three or five years. Houses were buried by sand. Older people always thought it was important to kick away the yellow sand, but year after year, we lost hope," Gao said.

Most of the herdsmen now live in modern flats like this, with clean water, electricity and wifi.

Zhang Xiwang said his dream is to turn his home town into a completely Green oasis. And he's already half way there.

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