Na­tions urged to learn from work in Kubuqi to re­claim bar­ren lands

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By YUAN HUI in Or­dos, In­ner Mon­go­lia and ZHENG JINRAN in Bei­jing

Suc­cess­ful ef­forts to re­for­est the once-bar­ren Kubuqi Desert in north­ern China have boosted re­gional growth and pro­vided a model for other na­tions to fol­low, es­pe­cially those in­volved in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, an in­ter­na­tional fo­rum was told over the week­end.

The to­tal area of green­ery in the desert, the sev­enth­largest in China, has ex­panded by more than 6,000 square kilo­me­ters in the past three decades.

This has been achieved by get­ting farm­ers and herds­men to plant herbs com­monly used in tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine, im­prove the soil qual­ity, build so­lar power plants and de­velop tourism, Wang Wen­biao, chair­man of Elion Re­sources Group, which has spear­headed the re­for­esta­tion ef­forts, said at the sixth Kubuqi In­ter­na­tional Desert Fo­rum.

The two-day fo­rum held in Or­dos, In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion, was at­tended by over 250 par­tic­i­pants from 35 coun­tries, in­clud­ing for­mer heads of state, se­nior of­fi­cials from gov­ern­ments and UN or­ga­ni­za­tions, busi­ness lead­ers and schol­ars.

Del­e­gates hailed the sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ments of the Kubuqi model, call­ing it a “par­a­digm for fun­da­men­tal so­lu­tions to large-scale projects for com­bat­ing de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion”, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment by the fo­rum or­ga­niz­ers on Sun­day.

The green­ing project of­fers a model for tack­ling de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion that is in­no­va­tive, adapt­able and sus­tain­able, the state­ment added.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping said in a con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sage that the work car­ried out in the Kubuqi Desert had been a suc­cess, and that the fo­rum pro­vided an im­por­tant plat­form for coun­tries to share ex­pe­ri­ences in re­vers­ing de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion.

In ad­di­tion to re­duc­ing the desert area to 18,600 sq km, the ef­forts by Elion Re­sources Group and the lo­cal and cen­tral gov­ern­ments had helped lift 102,000 peo­ple out of poverty, the fo­rum heard.

China has played a big role in global eco­log­i­cal im­prove­ment, and the ex­pe­ri­ences ac­cu­mu­lated from the green­ing of the Kubuqi Desert have im­por­tance to other coun­tries, es­pe­cially those in­volved in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, said Jiang Nan­qing, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive in China for the United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme.

The Kubuqi model shows that get­ting com­pa­nies in­volved can bet­ter pro­mote the econ­omy and cre­ate jobs while im­prov­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, she said.

Vice-Pre­mier Ma Kai said in his open­ing ad­dress on Sat­ur­day that China has made great progress in the fight against de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion and is the first coun­try to see desert re­duced.

China’s to­tal desert area is shrink­ing at a rate of 2,400 sq km a year, he said, adding that by the end of the 20th cen­tury, deserts were ex­pand­ing by more than 10,000 sq km per year.

The coun­try will con­tinue to in­no­vate in terms of tax­a­tion, in­vest­ment and fi­nanc­ing to con­trol de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion, and will in­volve more par­ties to join the green­ing ef­forts and de­velop in­dus­tries, Ma said.

By 2020, China aims to re­ha­bil­i­tate 100,000 sq km of desert and make more than half of the coun­try’s re­claimable land green again.

Con­tact the writ­ers at zhengjin­ran@ chi­

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