The Kubuqi Desert in Inner Mongolia, the seventh largest desert in China, has recently appeared with its name highlighted in a YouTube video posted by Anton Petrov, a US science blogger with a keen interest in environmental issues. In the video entitled “China Shocked the World by Planting Billions of Trees...Our Turn!”, Anton spoke highly of the extensive afforestation carried out in China over the past decade or so, “This is going to really blow your mind.” Confused how China managed to pull off such incredible achievements, he had made a relatively thorough data research and even visited China a few times to figure out “how they did it.”
In the video, Anton mentioned a report released by NASA in February 2019, which indicates that China alone accounts for 25 percent of the globally increased green leaf area from 2000 to 2017. As he noted, “The Chinese deserts have been shrinking by about 2,400 square kilometers per year. That is a huge amount.” As an epitome of the ecological progress in China, the Kubuqi Desert has been restored from once-barren sands to green life-giving oases, which is shown as one of the greenest parts on the NASA satellite map presented by Anton.
How did it happen? Behind the green miracle in Kubuqi is a Chinese company named Elion Group, (ELION), Elion has been committed to leading and uniting desert fighters for the past three decades, thanks to ELION’s desertification control efforts, more than 600,000 hectares of desert land has been afforested in the Kubuqi Desert, with a total of 15.4 million metric tons of carbon sequestrated, 24.38 billion cubic meters of water resource conserved, and 18.3 million metric tons of oxygen produced, generating a total value of RMB 349 million in biodiversity conservation and creating over RMB 500 billion of ecological wealth – 80 percent of which is ecological and social benefits. Notably, ELION’s eco-restoration projects have lifted over 100,000 local residents out of poverty. The Elion Eco-restoration Demonstration Area in the Kubuqi Desert was recognized by the UN Environment as a Global Ecological Economy Demonstration Zone in 2014, and designated by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China as a national Green Economy Innovation Base on December 15, 2018.
Anton concluded with the video with a message to Americans: “When it comes to planting trees, China has definitely kicking our butts.” The video received many comments expressing appreciation for the ecological progress in China, such as “Brings a tear to my eye.” “2019: Gobi Desert. 2119: Gobi Forest.” “This is nothing less than a revolution. A tree revolution!” and “China and a many other countries had a much larger green cover than 10 years ago. Their efforts are bearing fruit…it is heartening to see the change.”
The video widely shared on social media was part of the #TeamTrees challenge, a massive crowdfunding campaign aiming to raise 20 million dollars by January 1, 2020 to plant 20 million trees around the globe. The initiative has so far raised over 14 million dollars.