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NASA Recognizes China’s “Outsized Contribution” to Global Greening Trend, as Kubuqi Alone Reclaims Over 6,000 km2 of Desert

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NASA Recognizes China’s “Outsized Contribution” to Global Greening Trend, as Kubuqi Alone Reclaims Over 6,000 km2 of Desert

February 15
17:03 2019

The Earth is greener than it was 20 years ago, and “China and India account for one-third of the greening,” according to a latest NASA study published on February 12, 2019. The study has found that despite the general notion of land degradation in populous countries from over-exploitation, China has set up a replicable example by rolling out ambitious programs to conserve and expand forests and effective measures to address global warming.The finding released by NASA on Twitter has won appreciation from Internet users across the world. In addition to NASA’s satellite images reflecting global greening, two remotely sensed satellite images showing the transformation of the Kubuqi Desert in northern China have once again become popular on the Internet.


Changes in ELION Desertification Control Area in Kubuqi. Source: Remotely Sensed Satellite Data of Chinese Academy of Forestry

The sharp increase in forest area in China is made possible thanks to enduring afforestation efforts guided by the proposition that “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets,” including the 40-year-long Three North Shelter belt Forest Program, and the desertification control project in Kubuqi carried out by Elion Resources Group (ELION) since over 30 years ago. China’s “outsized contribution” to global greening trend demonstrates that the country has been proactively taking up its responsibilities to address climate change through emissions reduction and carbon sink increase.

In particular, the growth of carbon sinks matters a great deal, as “one hectare of forest can absorb 1,005 kg of carbon dioxide and provide 735 kg of oxygen every day, and conserve over 500 metric tons of water every year,” said Wang Wenbiao, Chairman of ELION, at UNFCCC COP24 held in Katowice, Poland in December 2018.“At a conservative estimate, 36 million km2 of land on the planet has been desertified, which is 100 times the size of Poland,”he continued. As the leader of desertification control in the Kubuqi Desert, and a winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award as a “Champion of the Earth,”Wang proposed the Global Desert Afforestation Initiative for Carbon Sink Increase at COP 24, and offered a breakdown analysis of its possible benefits forthe representatives attending the conference, who heatedly discussed the successful Kubuqi Model in desertification control.

As noted by Wang, desertification control through afforestation is one of the most important solutions to climate change. The restored deserts are the best carbon sinks, contributing to carbon sequestration and water resource conservation.

Wang’s proposalin the Initiative that the 30 million km2 of desertified land on earth shall be utilized appropriately to help increase forest carbon sinks and address climate change was appreciated by Jorge Chediek, Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation, as an innovative example for the world to follow.

At the conference, Wang shared the theories, technologies, experience and models used in the Kubuqi desert control project, where the successful practice of increasing forest carbon sinks has proved that desert control and greening are essential to combating climate change.

What Wang proposed at the conference comes from ELION’s groundbreaking exploration led by him over the past 30 years: deserts, rather than negative assets, are regarded as a source of organic fruit and vegetable, and solar energy; new techniques invented by ELION such as the minimally invasive planting have helped improve the efficiency of desert control at a geometric rate and lower the cost by over 50%; the greening project also helps alleviate poverty and improve employment, creating a beautiful and wealthy community.

Over the past 30 years, with the support of governments at all levels in China, ELION has reclaimed more than 6,000 km² of desert land, which helps sequester 15.4 million metric tons of carbon, conserves 24.38 billion m3 of water resource, and produces 18.3 million metric tons of oxygen.

According to world’s first ecological wealth report released by the UN in 2017, the Kubuqi desertification control project carried out by ELION has created over RMB 500 billion of ecological wealth, and helped lift 102,000 people out of poverty. The result was confirmed in a report issued by experts from authoritative academic institutions in China in 2018, such as the Chinese Academy of Forestry. The achievements made by ELION in Kubuqi over the past three decades were reviewed in the report on the basis of credible data, including the MODIS data from NASA.

The efforts made by ELION in massive desertification control and industry development have been highly recognized by the Chinese government and international organizations including the UN. On April 22, 2014, or the 45th Earth Day, the ELION eco-restoration zone in the Kubuqi Desert was identified by the UN as a global ecological economy demonstration zone.On December 15, 2018, it was recognized by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China as an innovation base for the implementation of the proposal of Chinese President Xi Jinping that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets.

For the approach to increasing forest carbon sinks through desert forestation, Wang expects that if all stakeholders work together more closely to turn 10% of the desertified land on earth to forests in the next decade, the carbon sinks will increase by 100,000 metric tons and water resource by 150,000 metric tons globally each day, and more than 100 million people will be lifted out of poverty.

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