Seven years of planting trees has resulted in an increase of 530 million trees in the region. The forest coverage rate has increased from 1.68% to 2.1%.
(Urumqi - August 23, 2004) If you visited Xinjiang years ago and came back here again today, you will find that the oasis in Xinjiang is expanding. Since 1997, Xinjiang residents and farm workers voluntarily planted a total of 530 million trees in the region, with a forest coverage rate that has increased from 1.68% to 2.1%.
This figure is of extraordinary significance to the desert and Gobi-based areas in Xinjiang. Located in the hinterland of the Eurasian continent, Xinjiang receives less than 200 mm of precipitation annually; while close to 2,000mm evaporates every year. Therefore, it is very difficult to promote afforestation work in this region. Since 1997, the autonomous region has been enhancing the greening of barren hills and deserts; and beginning to create a stereo green screen composed of an oasis farmland network in the hinterland, and large dune-fixing forest belts, natural desert, and mountain forests on the edge of the oasis. As a result, the internal ecological environment of the oasis has been stabilized and the external ecological situation has been improved. This helped slow down desertification, and strengthened the economic and ecological security of the entire region. In particular, people in the southern border region have been successful in growing orchards of fruit.
Minfeng County used to suffer in the desert for decades. After several years of efforts, the 120-km long and 70-km wide Niya Oasis shelter was built on the edge of the desert. Qiemo County built a 51-km long and 500-m wide drought-resistant belt on the bank of the Cheerchen River, and pushed back the desert edge over 500 meters. Hotan is situated in the hinterland of the desert. It has successfully connected together dozens of forest belts on the edge of the Taklimakan Desert into a big one. In 2001, Hotan County ranked among the “top 500 global environments” by the United Nations Environment Program.
The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps sets up its farms mostly in the following: the Gobi desert, saline beach areas where water is scarce, land with serious salinization, areas where vegetation is scarce, and extremely arduous ecological environments. In recent years, the Corps planted various trees, shrubs, and grass to form a green network of belts and zones. In this way, it has gradually expanded the green region in the desert’s hinterland. In addition, the Corps unveiled large scale projects for wind protection and sand fixation in the regions with serious sandstorms,
Corps also managed the protection of the 12.13 million mu of desert vegetation in batches by setting up oasis ecosystems through integrating artificial plantation with natural resources and desert vegetation.