Green­ing Xin­jiang

Beijing Review - - This Week Society -

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.

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