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Enormous Ecological, Environmental and Socio-economic Benefits

The aim of this project is to plant Salix thereby establishing an “eco-energy forest base” which will not only prevent future erosion and improve the local ecological sandy environment through sand stabilization but also to provide economic benefits for the local community.

(1) Ecological environment of the sandy land has been improved

Due to the changing climate and the inability of the landscape to recover, the original, beautiful and fertile Mu Us Sandy land is gradually losing its natural vegetation.  This is resulting in an increasing and seemingly boundless desert (sandy land).

This project takes advantage of the natural characteristics of the sand aquifer and desert shrubs while actively encourages farmers to carry out Salix planting resulting in over 26 hectares of Salix being planted.  The planting of Salix increases levels of photosynthesis encouraging higher levels of carbon dioxide absorption.  This not only helps to achieve carbon sequestration but also has a positive effect on air purification.  Salix is a natural leafy plant with good ground cover and a well developed root system that responses to stubble ploughing.  The plant’s foliage provides an effective wind break and is capable of reducing wind speeds from 5 m/s to less than 3 m/s meaning that sand blow and dust storms decrease.  Salix also has the added benefit of providing sand stabilization helping to decrease sand erosion.  Also with the large annual rainfall (220 ~ 440 mm) in Maowusu, the Salix foliage can play an important role in trapping rainwater while the leave litter and underground roots absorb water.  The rainwater impact is reduced when blocked by the plant’s foliage resulting in less soil erosion.  The rain water is effectively absorbed by the soil retaining additional groundwater.

(2)Enormous social and economic benefits

The project rents herdsmen’ barren sandy land and employs the herdsmen to plan the Salix.  The project also purchases stubble wastes from the herdsmen.  Through the cultivation, crop protection, stubble ploughing, slicing, storage and processing industry line, the project is creating over 8,000 million labor funds each year which is increasing the annual income per capita of more than 7,000 farmers to over ten thousand yuan. The Salix project has resulted in generating over 40 million to the local community of farmers and herdsmen.  The renting of the land and reforestation project has added more than 20 million in income with another approximate 20 million gained through Salix slice processing.  The project has also helped to stimulate the local transport industry which has resulted in a growth worth 15 million yuan.  Finally, once the land is restored, the potential for cattle and sheep farming will increase ten-fold which will result in a further economic growth for farmers and herdsmen.

When viewed in this light, the project not only greatly improves the local ecological environment by developing “forestation” and increasing desertification control but also enhances the quality of life for the local community.  Furthermore, the industrial possibilities of Salix greatly increase the farmers’ income while providing employment and stimulating economic growth which results in increased national unity.

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