Even with help, trees strug­gle to sur­vive in bar­ren Ti­bet area

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA -

A fine fowl perches on a fine tree, as the old Chi­nese say­ing goes, but in Nagqu pre­fec­ture in the north­ern part of the Ti­bet au­tonomous re­gion, there are sim­ply no trees, fine or oth­er­wise.

Lo­cated about 4,500 me­ters above sea level, Nagqu has thin air, a dry cli­mate and sandy soil, with no nat­u­ral trees.

“Trees are a rar­ity here, so birds usu­ally nest on the ground with the rats and rab­bits,” said Sumje Tashi, Party chief of Nagqu.

This year though, Sumje was de­lighted to find a spar­row’s nest in a young pine tree in the yard of the pre­fec­ture.

“Birds’ nests are rather rare here. We hadn’t seen one for many years,” Sumje said.

The lo­cal gov­ern­ment has started plant­ing more trees, invit­ing com­pa­nies with strong green back­grounds to help.

“For years, the peo­ple here have tried to plant trees and keep them alive, be­cause they Nan­chang, Nan­chang will help im­prove the harsh cli­mate on the plateau,” he said.

“In the 1980s, the gov­ern­ment of­fered a large re­ward for suc­cess­ful tree-plant­ing tech­niques, but no one ever claimed it. Trees planted one year would all be dead the next,” Sumje re­called.

Nagqu built its first treeplant­ing base in 1998, grow­ing ju­nipers, spruces and poplars. In 2008, it built an­other small base to grow cy­press and elm trees. Wooden boards pro­tect them from the harsh win­ter.

A tree must over­come sev­eral harsh chal­lenges to sur­vive in Nagqu, said Sun Fuqiang, a tech­ni­cian with Elion, a com­pany that has planted more than 200,000 saplings in Nagqu.

It is hard for a tree to take root in the strong wind. Wa­ter and fer­til­izer dis­ap­pear into the grav­elly soil. Tree trunks dry up in the sun’s strong ul­tra­vi­o­let rays at high alti­tude, and trees can suc­cumb to frost and sud­den drops of tem­per­a­ture dur­ing the night, Sun said.

“Seedlings grow ex­tremely slowly in Nagqu. If a seedling has not be­come woody be­fore mid-Septem­ber, it may not sur­vive the win­ter.”

“In the fu­ture, we hope that any­one, not just me and my col­leagues, will be able to grow trees on the plateau based on our ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

Tech­niques such as soil im­prove­ment, wind pro­tec­tion and mea­sures against the cold have greatly in­creased the cost of plant­ing.

In ad­di­tion to find­ing ways to im­prove the sur­vival rate, Sun and col­league Lhadung be­lieve it is also nec­es­sary to bring down the cost, if wide­spread tree plant­ing is ever to suc­ceed in Nagqu.

Sun also said more trees could lead to a more ami­able mi­cro­cli­mate that helps peo­ple over­come alti­tude stress.

ZHU WENBIAO / FOR CHINA DAILY

El­e­men­tary school stu­dents cel­e­brate the open­ing of the CNS Theme Park in Nan­chang, Jiangxi prov­ince, on Mon­day. The CNS China’s first-gen­er­a­tion mis­sile de­stroyer, was com­mis­sioned in 1982. It was taken out of ser­vice in 2016 and will serve as a base for ed­u­ca­tion about na­tional de­fense and pa­tri­o­tism.

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