China to re­store BRI po­plar tree forests

Pro­gram will re­duce over­flow of Pak­istan’s In­dus River: foun­da­tion

Global Times - - Front Page - By Zhao Yusha in Wuwei

China’s cam­paign to plant desert po­plar trees helps re­store the eco­log­i­cal sys­tem and brings eco­nomic ben­e­fits to coun­tries in­volved in the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive (BRI), and helps re­duce the over­flow of the In­dus River, a Chi­nese en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion said.

At a fo­rum in Wuwei, North­west China’s Gansu Province on Thurs­day, Chen Shux­ian, chair­man of China Green Foun­da­tion (CGF), said that the Pop­u­lus eu­phrat­ica or desert po­plar tree restora­tion plan will be first pi­loted in sev­eral coun­tries along BRI, and will then grad­u­ally de­velop three routes for the restora­tion of the tree forests.

The three routes cover ar­eas in North­west China, the Chi­naPak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor and China-Cen­tral Asia-West Asia Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor.

The tree restora­tion cam­paign be­tween China and Pak­istan will be car­ried out along the In­dus River.

The desert po­plar tree is a pi­o­neer species of the up­per reaches of the In­dus River and plays an im­por­tant role in con­serv­ing and con­trol­ling the over­flow of the river, CGF said.

We ex­pe­ri­ence floods in west­ern and south­ern In­dia, Bhawani Shanker Kusum, pres­i­dent of Gram Bharati Samiti, an In­dian-based or­ga­ni­za­tion, told the Global Times, not­ing that it has killed many peo­ple.

He said he rec­og­nizes the sig­nif­i­cance of China and Pak­istan’s plan to plant the tree on the up­per reaches of the In­dus River.

China aims to first build desert po­plar trees in north­ern Pak­istan (such as La­hore in Pun­jab and Peshawar Province) and ex­plore co­op­er­a­tion mod­els, CGF said.

The desert po­plar trees in Cen­tral and West Asia start from Korla, North­west China’s Xin­jiang Uyghur Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion, ex­tend­ing to Kaza­khstan, Uzbek­istan, Iran and Tur­key, among oth­ers.

The CGF has pro­posed to build a desert pop­u­lar tree na­tional park in Xin­jiang as a pi­lot pro­gram, which will serve as a busi­ness card for for­eign aid co­op­er­a­tion in restor­ing the desert po­plar tree for­est.

The tree is a species in deserts in coun­tries along BRI, which plays a unique role in sus­tain­ing eco­log­i­cal and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in these coun­tries, Chen said.

Data from China’s forestry bu­reaus shows that the tree not only has great eco­log­i­cal value but also helps pro­mote the lo­cal tourism in­dus­try.

Desert po­plar tree-cen­tered tourism helped North China’s In­ner Mon­go­lia Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion at­tract 1.1 mil­lion tourists, an in­crease of 20 per­cent from last year, and tourists spent 1.4 bil­lion yuan ($200 mil­lion).

The desert po­plar tree forests in these coun­tries are shrink­ing, and if not han­dled prop­erly, this trend will af­fect the BRI, CGF said.

The desert po­plar tree area in China ac­counts for 61 per­cent of the world. “Thus, China has the ex­pe­ri­ence and tech­nol­ogy in pro­tect­ing and restorat­ing the tree,” Chen said.

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