Reclaiming land from China’s threatening deserts

Almost one third of China’s land is desert—a process that has accelerated due to development and human activities. The deserts of China have also become a tourist attraction.

In addition, another third is mountains with an additional 10% covered with hills. Combine deserts, mountains and hills and that accounts for about 70% of the country’s land surface.

One strategy to slow the spread of the deserts was to create a grid of plant growth that will hold the sand in place. Trees have been planted too—all to stop the sand from spreading.

This project started years ago. Together with other planting strategies, this slowed the process of spreading deserts and has reversed the trend.

However, due to natural resources needed to fuel China’s growth and a huge population, northern China has become a boomtown and is attracting millions because of the opportunities to earn better money.

Herders have also been restricted from allowing their animals to graze on the areas that are being reclaimed from the desert.

This has caused a reduction in the size of herds such as sheep and goats.

China has no choice but to win this battle with the desert since there is a shortage of land to use for food production—only 15% of the land that can be cultivated for food crops but only 75% of that land (about 10% of China’s land) is used for that purpose.

Yet, even with these challenges, China still produces more food than any other country.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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2 Responses to Reclaiming land from China’s threatening deserts

  1. Israel did some good reclaiming of desert. Since then, they’ve had the devil’s own time protecting it from being turned into housing projects. They fight is never over.

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