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African experts learn about desertification control

By Qin Feng in Xi'an and Zou Shuo | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-27 09:05
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African experts in the fields of ecology and environmental protection plant camphor pines at a tree-planting base in the Mu Us Desert in Yulin, Shaanxi province, last month. [Photo by Ma Teng/For China Daily]

More than 30 experts from eight African countries recently visited the Mu Us Desert in Yulin, Shaanxi province, to learn about desertification control from local officials.

Various strategies and initiatives have been implemented to combat desertification in Yulin. The average forestation rate in the city has increased from 0.9 percent in 1949, when the People's Republic of China was founded, to 36 percent, while 93 percent of the sand land in the city has been brought under control, according to the city government.

The Mu Us Desert, in North China's Ordos Plateau, spans parts of Shaanxi and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and is one of the four major sand lands in China. Thanks to decades of efforts by governments and residents, more than 80 percent of the sand land in the desert has been brought under control, with the forestation rate reaching 30 percent, Xinhua News Agency reported.

During their field trip, organized by the Ministry of Commerce and the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, the African experts visited tree farms, desertification control centers and photovoltaic and wind power stations from April 17 to 20.

They also gained first-hand experience in planting sand-binding vegetation and constructing windbreaks.

Beyene Dereje Tafesse, a senior technical adviser at Jimma University in Ethiopia, said he was amazed by Yulin's achievements in its fight against desertification.

The city used to be like the Sahara Desert, but is now an oasis thanks to the continuous efforts made by the local government and people, he said.

"I am honored to see it myself, and the desertification control measures set a good example for Africa," he said.

James Mohammad Mallah, president of the Freetown Business Forum in Sierra Leone's capital, said he was also deeply impressed.

"Turning a desert place into a forest is so amazing," he said. "I was blown away, and words cannot describe my feelings."

Asmerom Mikal Uqbe, who works in environmental protection in Eritrea, planted a pine tree and took pictures to commemorate the experience.

"I am very excited," she said. "Yulin is so beautiful, and I hope to visit it again in the future."

Kariwai John Mathias, a consultant with the African Union, said he was inspired by the trip, which proved the fight against desertification can be won.

"It is remarkable for local people to put so much effort into improving the environment, and the experience should be shared and promoted in other countries," he said.

Wu Feng, an official from Yulin's forestry and grassland bureau, accompanied the experts during the trip.

She said they relished the experience, asking lots of questions and taking notes.

African countries are experiencing some of most the serious desertification in the world, and the visit showed that Yulin's experience in controlling the problem has been widely acknowledged, she said.

"We want to share our experience with African friends, and we hope they can take it home and combat desertification there," Wu said.

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