Tibet witnessing decrease in desertification and sandification

The city of Shannan, a semi-arid region in the Southeast Tibet Autonomous Region, is working on a desertification control program covering more than 3,200 hectares.

Since 2005, the county government has promoted the agriculture and ranching sectors in this region, helping nearly 2,000 local farmers find employment. According to statistics, desertification in the region decreased by 92,000 hectares between 2004 and 2014, while sandification decreased by 100,000 hectares.

After 10 years of effort, the sand settled down, greatly improving the local environment. “The effect of the sand control projects has been good. Before the start of the control project [for] this sandy area in 2005, the sand was blown everywhere by frequent wind in different seasons throughout the year. Wind speed could reach over 24 meters per second in summer, ”said Chang Xuexiang, an environmental expert at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

To prevent sandstorms from spreading to other parts of the area, residents and organizations planted trees and built grates to hold the sand in place.

The average elevation of Shannan City is around 3,700 meters, which is too high an elevation for many species of plants and trees to survive. Conservationists need to carefully select hardy flora that can withstand altitude and the environment, such as mulberry.

“We choose plants which have better desertification control effects in interior regions. However, we also have to take into account the differences in environmental conditions such as altitude between other interior regions and Tibet,” Chang said. .

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, also known as “the roof of the world” and “the water tower of Asia”, is an important guarantor of China’s environmental security.

(Cover image via CFP)
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