(China.org.cn, July 30, 2015) Elion Resources Group, a company based in Inner Mongolia of China, has spent the past 27 years combating desertification in the Kubuqi Desert and turned more than 6,000 square kilometers of the desert into an oasis, setting a good example for global desertification control and climate adaptation.
The company has fostered a string of green industries in the Kubuqi Desert and proved desertification control is financially viable.
Based in the Kubuqi Desert, China's seventh largest desert, Elion's long-standing strategy of pursuing a balanced growth for the local ecological protection, economic development and improvement of livelihood has been widely recognized as a model of good practice.
A worker at Elion Resources Group irrigates trees in the Kubuqi Desert. [China.org.cn]
Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary-General of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, spoke highly of the achievements and successes made by Elion in restoring an area of more than 600,000 hectares of desert to green land through the sustainable business model.
This could be replicated in other deserts across the world, she said. "Their experiences are interesting not only because they have succeeded, but because they are done with means that any poor country can do."
She further explained that the means are mainly labor intensive. "It means what is been done here is very much replicable," she added.
John Agyekum Kufuor, former President of the Organization of African Union said the Kubuqi mode was a concentrated approach to combat desertification.
Desertification is a global challenge, posing major environmental and ecological threats to about one-third of the earth, according to a 2004 United Nations study.
Zhang Xiwang, a farmer who has planted trees in the Kubuqi Desert for more than a decade, said, “After more than ten years of desertification efforts, the desert has seen greenland grow and climate turns better.”
“Previously there was rarely rain fall, but not there are more than a dozen rain falls a year,” the farmer added.
Elion’s greening initiatives have helped increase his incomes. Plowing on a dozen-mu field, he could earn about 2,000 yuan a year annual, but now he can earn up to 70,000 yuan on planting trees and
Desertification is a grim challenge to all mankind and should be given due attention.
Desertification and climate change are interconnected. Not only is climate change accelerating the rate at which deserts are growing, but desertification itself is also contributing to climate change.
Elion's greening ambition goes beyond Kubuqi and even China.
Elion has partnered with the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification to launch the greening Silk Road Partnership program in 2014, aiming to unite business and partners around the world to plant 1.3 billion trees along the Silk Road in 10 years and create a good ecological environment for the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt.
Based on the projection of planting 1,000 trees in every hectare, 1.3 billion trees can turn 130,000 hectares of deserts into oases and contribute to carbon reduction.
With 23 countries involved in the grand project having complicated situations, the grand project faces big challenges.
"If you look at these 23 countries on the Silk Road, some of them are in the disastous state of land degradation," said Barbut.
She pointed out that the challenge is about how the governments put such an initiative into place.
Despite the difficulties ahead, Barbut stressed that the initiative is the best way for China to help others adapt to climate change.
The program focuses on actively improving the ecological environment of ecologically vulnerable regions along the Belt, enhancing their ability to adapt and respond to climate change and effectively combating land degradation.
Food shortages and water scarcity have made the land issue very acute and alarming.
According to the UN, approximately 12 million hectares of productive land are being lost every year, equivalent to one tenth of the area of China. This is contributing to food shortages and water scarcity, and undermining resilience to climate change.