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China Plants 'Great Green Wall' of Trees

Net deforestation continues, but at a slower rate as the world's largest ecological engineering project stretches for a planned 2,800 miles. It is hoped the new trees will halt the advance of the Gobi Desert.
April 29, 2015, 5am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Beset by desertification and famously polluted, northern China has undertaken a massive reforestation project. Lily Kuo writes, "Reforestation efforts in China, combined with regrowth on abandoned farmland in Russia, have helped offset 81% of the loss in above-ground biomass carbon lost to tropical deforestation since 2003, according to a new study in the academic journal Nature Climate Change."

What has been dubbed the 'Great Green Wall' will be unprecedented in scope: "Overall, the country has planted 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of new forest since 2008, according to the State Forestry Administration." Officials hope the program will stall the Gobi Desert, which has been expanding toward Beijing. 

Overall net tree cover is still dropping in China, but at a slower rate. Part of the problem is that the new trees are hardly part of a complex ecosystem: "many of the new trees are non-native fruit and rubber tree plantations that require large amounts of water, and are monocultures prone to disease and pests." 

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