Gorbi desert
Sahara desert

Reforestation example: GOBI désert  (Mongolia, China)

China has seen 3,600 km2 (1,400 sq. mi) of grassland overtaken every year by the Gobi Desert. Each year, dust storms blow off as much as 2,000 km2 (800 sq. mi) of topsoil, and the storms are increasing in severity each year. These storms also have serious agricultural effects for other nearby countries, such as Japan, North Korea, and South Korea. The Green Wall project was begun in 1978, with the proposed end result of raising northern China's forest cover from 5 to 15 percent, thereby reducing desertification.

As of 2009, China's planted forest covered more than 500,000 square kilometers (increasing tree cover from 12% to 18%) – the largest artificial forest in the world. Of the 53,000 hectares planted that year, a quarter died. In 2008, winter storms destroyed 10% of the new forest stock, causing the World Bank to advise China to focus more on quality rather than quantity in its stock species.

The fourth and most recent phase of the project, started in 2003, has two parts: the use of aerial seeding to cover wide swathes of land where the soil is less arid, and the offering of cash incentives to farmers to plant trees and shrubs in areas that are more arid. A $1.2 billion oversight system (including mapping and surveillance databases) is also to be implemented. The "wall" will have a belt with sand-tolerant vegetation arranged in checkerboard patterns to stabilize the sand dunes. A gravel platform will be next to the vegetation to hold down sand and encourage a soil crust to form. The trees should also serve as a windbreak from dust storms.

Map of China and the Gobi desert


Methodology and progres

Measuring success

Some Disadvantage

If the trees succeed in taking root, they could soak up large amounts of groundwater, which would be extremely problematic for arid regions like northern China. For example, in Minqin, an area in north-western China, studies showed that groundwater levels have dropped by 12–19 metres since the advent of the project.

Land erosion and over farming have halted planting in many areas of the project. China's increasing levels of pollution has also weakened the soil, causing it to be unusable in many areas

Green Belt Project

Gorbi Desert