Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is restoring the ecosystem along the Tarim River, China’s longest inland river, partly by replenishing its lower reaches which dried up 30 years ago.
Nearly 6.2 billion cubic meters of water from lakes and tributaries have been already infused into the dry trunk stream of the river, which runs 1,321 km along the rim of the barren Tarim Basin, a sparsely populated area about the size of Poland.
Excessive irrigation caused the river’s lower reaches to run dry in the early 1970s, pushing local vegetation to the verge of extinction.
The government launched a 10.7-billion-yuan ($1.6 billion) restoration project in 2000, taking water from surrounding lakes and constructing more water storage facilities.
Industrial and agricultural use of water in cities and counties along the river was controlled, while farmland was returned to grassland.
According to data released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, around 2,285 square km of vegetation has been restored, and 854 square km of land that had become desert has been reclaimed.