The Taklimakan Desert and the Gurbantunggut Desert on each side
of the Tianshan Mountains in west China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous
Region have become wetter and greener thanks to the global warming
and human efforts.
The effects of global warming, together with the greening
project along with Tarim oil exploitations, have significantly
changed regional climate patterns in the central part of the
Taklimakan Desert. According to statistics from a meteorological
station in Bayinguoleng Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, the number
of days with precipitation was 33 in the area this year, much more
than the average number of previous years.
The record for this decade also indicates that last year's
relative humidity was four percent higher than that of 1998, while
the number of windy days decreased by 13 days.
The green belt in the center of the Taklimakan Desert has
expanded year after year since 1994. The Tarim Oilfield, in
cooperation with the Institute of Ecology and Geography under the
China Academy of Sciences, undertook a reforestation project in the
hinterlands of the desert. They sorted out over 80 varieties of
trees that could adapt successfully to desert climate conditions.
Species included the Chinese tamarisk twig, the Mongolian
calligonum and the sacsaoul. To aid the effort conservationists
used traditional underwater irrigation methods, called
karez. Some precious herbs used in Traditional Chinese
Medicine (TCM), such as saline cistanche, also took root.
Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and local governments
around the Gurbantunggut Desert have made great efforts in
protecting the indigenous sacsaoul forest in the past three
decades. Additionally, they have also raised the sapling survival
rate via air seeding. The sacsaoul forest coverage in the desert
extends 15 million mu (about one million ha), according to
a recent survey conducted by an expert panel from the State
Forest cover protects cropland from sandstorms and increases
annual precipitation. Climate change in turn facilitates plant
growth and improves the ecological environment in the long run.
Statistics show that the eighth agricultural construction
division of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps plants
some 800,000 mu of sacsaoul forest cover every year. The
forest cultivated by a military unit, the 149th regiment, has been
checked and accepted by northwest China forestry authorities as
"National Reserve of Non-commercial Forests".
The protection of the non-commercial forest has altered local
climate conditions and raised the average cotton yield to 400
kilograms per mu.
(China.org.cn by Huang Shan November 29, 2007)