More than 660,000 hectares of forests and grasslands have been planted since China's latest desertification control efforts were launched in the second half of 2023, as part of China's Three-North Shelterbelt Forest Program.
The Three-North Shelterbelt Forest Program, launched in 1978, consists of forestation in northwest, north and northeast China, in order to hold back the aftermath of sandstorms and soil erosion. The eight-phase project, covering 13 provincial-level regions, is expected to be completed by 2050.
The desertification control efforts target three regions. Two are areas in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, including 15 million hectares of desertified land alongside the Yellow River and the sandy areas on Hunshandake and Horqin. The other spans from the Hexi Corridor in central China to the Taklimakan Desert in the west.
Over the past few days, project workers have been flying drones capable of spraying grass seeds across the land as part of the Inner Mongolia Elion Kubuqi Photovoltaic Desert Control project, which aims to use solar panels to help support newly introduced plant life. The seeds are set to sprout during the spring.
"The drones are equipped with ejection devices. The devices work like a slingshot. They can eject seeds into the desert. Seeds have a high survival rate when planted in this way compared to manual planting," said He Pengfei, project manager of the photovoltaic desert control project.
A total of 23 projects are underway in northeast China's Liaoning Province, accounting for a major part of the work for sandy areas of Hunshandake and Horqin.
In the areas spanning the Hexi Corridor to the Taklimakan Desert, 14 key projects are being implemented.
"We have deployed 35 key projects in 328 county-level administrative districts in the three regions covered by the latest desertification control efforts, and have planned and deployed 33 key projects in areas in close proximity to the three regions. So far, the desert control work has started smoothly in the three regions," said Yan Jian, deputy director of the Department of Ecological Protection and Restoration under the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.