Located in the hinterland of Maowusu Desert, Wushen Banner in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region used to be ravaged by sandstorms, with a large area of desertified land. Ulandalai and his family spent 27 years building a "green oasis" here to preserve their homeland.
In his childhood memory, Ulandalai remembered the reddish brown sky and flying sand in the air when the sandstorm hit. Back then, his father and other herdsmen had to carry desert willow saplings on the back and walk a long way to plant them in the right place to build a shelter belt.
In 1993, Ulandalai contracted 447 hectares of sandy land and started his lifelong journey – turning the desert green. He employed livestock and vehicles to bring more saplings to the desert, and planted them manually. It is arduous task that Ulandalai and his family cannot accomplish alone. He sought help from his relatives and friends who have eventually brought changes to the desert.
After the rain, Ulandalai and over 10 employees seized time planting yangchai saplings. Yangchai is a drought-resistant species. It can survive even without watering. No matter how deep its sapling is planted, Yangchai can quickly grow into shrubs as its well-developed root system can absorb plenty of water under the sand. They are a great help in fixing drifting sand.
Since 2010, Ulandalai has also helped other neighbors harness the desert. About 1,333 hectares of land are now shrouded with a green blanket made up of desert willows and many other drought-resistant plants. The forest and plantation coverage rate in Wushen Banner also reached 32.89 percent and 80 percent, respectively.
Over 10 years ago, Ulandalai's family can only earn 5,000 yuan a year planting trees. Now, they can make 10 times more. Ulandalai plans to go on building the green oasis in the desert because it's his dream to leave the oasis to his offsprings.
Go green and live rich
Ecological poverty alleviation is a poverty reduction model that combines ecological protection with poverty alleviation. Some areas suffer from poverty due to their harsh natural environment, while others lack sustainable and scientific ways to make use of natural resources. Through participation in ecological protection and development of ecological industries, villagers can be lifted out of poverty while protecting Mother Nature.
This series not only uncovers the stories behind China's poverty alleviation policy but also depicts the life of ordinary people.