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  • Gordon Dumoulin

66 billion trees quietly planted in 40 years

Most people have heard about the Chinese Great Wall but few have heard about the Green Great Wall. Officially called the Three-North Shelter Forest Program (三北防护林) is a series of human-planted windbreaking forest strips in China, originally designed to hold back the expansion of the Gobi Desert.

Currently planted about 66 billion trees, shrubs and herbs; the program started in 1978, and is planned to be completed around 2050 with about 100 billion trees planted, at which point will be 4,500 kilometres long. Each year, China plants trees, shrubs and herbs over an area nearly the size of Ireland.

In 2000, deserts across China were reported to be expanding by 10,400 square kilometres a year while today it is reported that deserts are shrinking by more than 2,400 square kilometres a year. A major pitfall along the way of this program has been water shortage in forest areas for which adaptations have been put in place by planting shrubs instead which absorb little to no water.

China, along with India have taken the lead in greening the earth. The global green leaf area has increased by 5 percent since the early 2000s, an area equivalent to all of the Amazon rainforests of which at least 25 percent of that gain came in China.

#environment #china

sources : nasa, nature sustainability

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