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The Land of Sand

by Torstein Bøe

Zhongwei, Ningxia province

Desertification is one of the biggest environmental issues in China. It is also one of the least known problems. Slightly more than 27 percent of China's land area is desert, and the desert eats annually large portions of arable land.

 

Approximately 78 % has occurred naturally, but the last 22 % are caused by humans.This is partly because farmers and shepherds have let their animals eat vegetation down to the roots, making them unable to stop the sand when it blows.

 

The city Zhongwei in the Ningxia province, has been hit hard by desertification, but in 1978 the Chinese authorities began the project "The great green wall" to prevent the spread.

 

After this, the situation has improved. Since its inception, 66 billion trees have been planted, and when the planting project is completed in 2050, "The great green wall" will extend 4500 km. Ten years ago, farmers in Zhongwei could unearthing small patches of land they could grow corn and other crops on. Water could be obtained by drilling into the ground and retrieve groundwater.

 

Now Zhongwei is the hometown The Shapotou Desert Resort, which is a research senter and a large area where tourists can come to experience the desert.

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