In the 1950s, sandstorms darkened the sky over Beijing on average 56.2 days a year. In 2017, the storms from the deserts in the North declined to seven days, today to virtually zero.
In recent years, Beijing has grown together with neighbouring cities Tianjin and Hebei into a mega-city called Jing-Jin-Ji. This huge economic zone of the size of the old FRG with 130 million inhabitants still raged in 1978 on an average of five days of sandstorms during the course of the year. Now the meteorologists were able to give a clear signal for this area: on average still 0.1 days per year. A positive effect of climate change? Not with me, but a Plan.
As ChinAfrica magazine reported on 26 March 2019, Zhu Jiaojun, head of the Institute of Applied Ecology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, highlighted in his evaluation report this success of the 40-year work of theThree-North Shelterbelt Forest Program, the construction of the “Great Green Wall”. The programme has been evaluated for two years by the “National Forestry and Grassland Administration” and the Chinese Academy of Sciences according to a wide range of criteria such as changes in Forest stock, deforestation, Erosion and climate.
More than 40 years ago, in 1978⁄79, the programme was launched to counter the expansion of the Gobi desert or to push it back. 551 districts in 13 provinces were affected by deforestation, an area of over four million square kilometres, half as large as the European Union, where several ten million people were affected, according to Xinwen, researcher at the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG) in China, 10 June 2019. The deforestation had caused natural disasters, but also an excessive deforestation of firewood that lasted for generations, and the conversion into pasture land, similar to those in the colonised Ireland two to three hundred years ago by the English land lords.
This development programme was decided in 1978, divided into three stages with eight precisely described phases.
In 2050, the work should be completed, a gift for the 100th anniversary of the birth of the child. The people’s Republic’s birthday: a 4500-kilometre-long and several 100-kilometre-wide, restored ramparts. Currently, the work in the fifth Phase, is to present a proud in-between balance sheet: 46,14 million hectares of reforested area (an area larger than Germany), the Plan exceeded 118 percent, and the forest area has increased to 13,57 percent.
The areas with wind-breaking, Erosion-preventing and sand-fixing hedges and forests have grown by 154 percent. This prevented the spread of the desert and controlled soil erosion, which decreased by 67 percent.
The mega project, which was programmed to invest 13.6 billion dollars, brought significant social progress. It employs about 313 million people. Over half (53 percent) of the budget was destined to create vocational training and jobs. The development of the forestry and horticulture (flowers) has helped the Locals to increase their income.
Forest tourism has contributed significantly to the fight against poverty through the construction of national parks in forests, wetlands and the desert. The Parks have been visited by 380 million people since 1978.
Forerunner of the National Century project, so to speak as a regional experimental field, was already 16 years earlier, at the end of the” great leap forward”, the” Saihanba Jixie Forest Farm “ founded on deserted fallow land. At the 55th anniversary of its foundation, President Xi Jinping, according to China Africa, paid tribute on 28 September 2017 to the farmers ‘ historic achievement: in just two generations, they would have turned wasteland of yellow Sand, where birds would not have found a tree to squat on it, into a Green Lake. 400 kilometers ahead of Beijing is now the world’s largest artificial forest in the size of Hamburg: trees and shrubs cover 80 percent of the almost 75,000 hectares of farm land, where 55 years ago only 11.4 percent were to be documented.
The larch seedlings initially planted and delivered by ship did not survive and were replaced by local tree varieties. Over time, the rotted foliage provided nutrients for other plants such as bushes and flowers. When the forest became denser, he drew birds and other animals to the forest filled with life.
Today Saihanba houses 625 plant species, 179 fungal species and 660 different insects, as Xinhua reported. The State Farm serves not only as a windbreaker for Jing-Jin-Ji, but also as a tourist attraction with over 500,000 visitors annually, bringing in 6 million dollars of entry fees and 90 million dollars for the local economy, in which 15,000 Jobs (a large part of it small business) were created. The Farm project on carbon sequestration has calculated that the total amount of carbon bound in the Farm would be 4.75 million tons of carbon dioxide, converted into emission allowances sold a potential revenue of over $ 15 million.
Although the basic afforestation plan for the” great green wall “ is set, new concepts for the use of the desert are being developed. In the current Phase, differentiated approaches are followed in different places according to the laws of nature. New sand control technologies are being applied. Many factors, such as afforestation density, and tree species. Wang Feng of the “Institute of Desertification Studies” gave an example: on a plateau covering several provinces in North and northwest China, excessive afforestation caused problems such as excessive consumption of water.
The researcher also identified the increasing costs with increased environmental protection requirements as a challenge. The water shortage in the afforestation area is such a case: more than 40 percent of national land area with a water share of only 14 percent, also due to agricultural development.
By next year, the forest cover rate in the project areas should increase by 14 percent as planned in order to lay the foundations for the ecological safety barrier. By 2035, the quality of forests, meadows and pastures in the areas should have improved considerably, which should lead to a remarkable change in the ecological environment. By 2050 the ecological barrier, the “great green wall” should be completed.
The Kubiqui desert on the Ordos Plateau in Inner Mongolia, 800 kilometers from Beijing, was one of the three deserts, which forced the residents in the Jing-Jin-Ji Region on several days in the year, to wear masks to breathe, and to return home the Sand from all the cracks and suck. The UN Environment Programme described the Region as “a global ecologically-economic model” (ChinAfrica of 29 October 2012). In the 1980s, only 3 to 5 percent of the trees were covered with Vegetation and 53 percent were wooded in 2016.
The $ 1.8 billion project has received worldwide attention and even a model for integrated ecological, economic and social development, according to the “7th Kubiqui International Desert Forum” of July 27-28, 2019 on the topic “Greening the Belt and Road, Building the Ecological Civilization”.
After the independence of the people’s Republic in the 1950s and 1960s, there was not enough food to eat, said Liang Chanxiong, vice director of the forestry authority “Hanggin Banner of Ordos” to ChinAfrica. The beating of firewood, as indeed in Africa, was part of the” excessive farming”, as he said, which severely damaged the environment. In 1989, there were less than 100 millimeters of rain and fewer than 100 species of animals. “We understood that we were not allowed to exploit nature excessively. We had to find a balance.“
The Kubiqui desert was included in the national programme of the “Great Green wall”. The population was mobilized, the local government implemented a universal policy of Income generation (poverty reduction) and land management: Who planted bushes and trees in the desert, had the right to cultivate the Land and keep the profits — a massive success in the Region.
One of those who seized the “golden opportunity” was Baiyindaoerji, a native Shepherd of sheep. He told in the Video “Fighting Desertification” on ChinAfrica of 27 July 2019 his story: released from the army in 1983, he did not go back to the city like most, but to the country to build a simple mud house and plant trees. Like others, he was encouraged to grow” cash crops “ for the market.
Licorice is not only a medicinal plant in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), but also improves the quality of the soil, so that later, desert specific plants, such as watermelons and tomatoes could be grown. Baiyindaoerji has been growing licorice for over ten years. The plant helped him not only to pay off his debts of about 98,000 dollars, but also brings him an annual income of almost 30,000 dollars. In the interests of sustainability, it does not attach any importance to expanding the production areas.
Many local businessmen also participated in the reforestation. The Elion group, founded in 1988 as a salt refinery in the middle of the desert, built in six months a 65-Kilometer road, which, however, was no longer present after one of the then frequent sandstorms. The company therefore planted trees and bushes along the road. After 30 years, an oasis of 6,000 square kilometres was created around the refinery, larger than the Mecklenburg Lake District. And sandstorms are a thing of the past.
Liu Dongsheng, vice president of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, cited the widespread involvement of government, organizations and the population as a key factor for success. As Ümüt Halik wrote in the discussion forum of the TU Berlin in 1999, many Chinese were looking for the National “Afforestation festival” on 12 March, which marks the beginning of the annual one - to two-month afforestation campaign, to fulfil their duty to plant one to three trees, which is usually done together with colleagues from the company or in the neighbourhood.
Since 2017, there has been an individualized solution by mobile phone. It’s called “Ant Forest,” a well-chosen Name for the App of the financial services company Ant Financial, a subsidiary of the IT giant Alibaba. According to ChinAfrica of March 8, 2018, the App documents the personal carbon footprint, refers to climate actions and awards “green energy points” for its own environmentally friendly behavior, whether it be Online payment, instead of going to business, or by paying a Metro ticket instead of filling a tank, and thus aims to promote overall environmental awareness. 230 million users of Alipay have activated the Ant Forest Account, reported Alibaba. These “green energy points” solve the Partner of Ant Financial, one, two foundations, the “the LAKE Foundation” and the “China Green Foundation”, which in turn, support the reforestation project in the Alxa League of the desert So can plants, the User artificial trees or real.
By the end of August 2017, in less than half a year, users have planted 10,250 million Saxaul trees via the foundations, the equivalent of 1.22 million cubic metres of carbon dioxide emissions. Ten square kilometres have been reforested in the Alxa League desert in Inner Mongolia, where the Saxaul forest has shrunk from more than 11,000 to just 2,000 square kilometres. It would be interesting to know what this project is about today.
On the occasion of the third meeting of the UN Environmental Assembly in Nairobi in December 2017, Wang Wenbiao, president of Elion, was awarded the title “Champion of the Earth” for his commitment to the transformation of deserts into oases. The Chinese afforestation community Saihanba in the province of Hebei was in turn awarded the prestigious prize of the United Nations.
On 11 February 2019, the US space agency NASA published the study “Human Activity in China and India Dominates the Greening of Earth”, according to which China made one of the most important contributions to global environmental protection with a share of at least 25% between 2000 and 2017.
According to the UN environmental report, the core of the Kubuqi model is to set up a System that integrates policy instruments, private sector investment and the active participation of the local population. Since 2005, the African Union has been pursuing the construction of a”great green wall of Africa”. Here one can clearly see the System difference between capitalism and socialism: in the interest of short-term maximum profits, the project shrunk to a mosaic-like structure under neocolonial development conditions. Only a few countries, such as Senegal and Niger, used modest means of Forestry.
The Ethiopian government has now taken up the model, as Climate Change News reported on 31 July 2019. 50 years ago, the country was still 40 percent wooded, today it is only 15 percent. Since May, almost 3 billion trees have been planted, mostly seedlings from overseas. In an unprecedented mobilization of the entire country across all ethnic differences, 350 million trees were planted on a day off, as prime minister Aby Ahmed announced. “I think we have demonstrated people’s ability to come together collectively and realize a shared Vision,” he said.
Even if you consider the figures to be overstated — India’s state Uttar Pradesh keeps the Guinness World Record with 50 million trees planted in one day. “Everyone has understood the long-term Vision,” said the government spokeswoman. The campaign is only a part of the Ethiopian environmental policy, “Green Legacy” for clean water and sustainable agriculture.
Reforestation of forests would be the most effective measure against climate change, according to Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich in a study published in the journal Science and presented on 4 July. Professor Tom Crowther: “what fascinates me is the order of magnitude. I thought restoration would be among the Top 10, but it is far more powerful than any other proposed climate change solution.“And he continued to say that it was also by far the most cost-effective solution ever proposed, according to the British The Guardian of the 4th International Convention on the rights of the child.” July 2019.
What the Swiss website of the Crowther Lab is still working on is showing where how many trees could grow. But “to save the environment” would be to realize weighty and transcending the borders of the capitalist system political conditions, which can only be briefly listed here as urgent questions:
Should the land and natural resources not be owned by the state as a community manager rather than by private persons in order to cope with the major construction sites such as the housing shortage, the reconstruction of cities and infrastructure, the detoxification of soils et cetera?
Would the state not have to transfer national development interests to private interests, which are geared to economic growth, and implement them democratically coordinated and controlled in a medium - to long-term Plan? Should direct democratic participation not be developed in this regard, for example by means of citizens ‘ Referendum?
Shouldn’t peace policy be the Supreme commandment of state action? Would it not be necessary to pursue a consistent disarmament policy with a reduction in arms spending? Could we not use the means freed up by disarmament to convert the weapons forging into a sustainable reconstruction of the infrastructure? Wars have been proven to be the largest and most dangerous polluter.