Can the Great Green Wall of China Keep Out the Desert?

At the edge of the Kubuqi Desert in Inner Mongolia a nonprofit organization is planting millions of trees to slow the advancing sands. At stake is the air quality in Beijing and, perhaps, "the viability of the Asian continent."
November 22, 2013, 11am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Creeping deserts are a global problem. About one-third of the Earth is exposed to desertification, according to a 2004 United Nations study," writes Abigail Trafford.

"What makes desertification so problematic in Asia is the movement of sand toward population hubs." Sandstorms from the Kubuqi darken the skies over beijing, 800 miles away, and send plumes all the way to the West Coast of the U.S.

A nonprofit called Future Forest, was founded by former South Korean ambassador to China Byong Hyon Kwon in 2001 to address global desertification. Since 2006, they've been building a half-mile thick barrier of trees in the Kubuqi to stop the desert's eastward march. "The goal is to plant 100 million trees and thicken the green wall into habitable green space," notes Trafford.

“We would like to stop the desertification here,” the ambassador says. “I’m convinced we can do it.”

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Published on Friday, November 22, 2013 in The Washington Post
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