Mongolians plant to reforest while earning money

Updated: 2014-05-27 09:06

By Xu Lin (

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Mongolians plant to reforest while earning money
Fishing in the desert 

Mongolians plant to reforest while earning money

A family art 

Mongolians plant to reforest while earning money

Bright prospects 

If the seedlings fail to survive, the forestry bureau’s staff will try to ascertain why and plant more. When the saxaul reaches maturity three years later, the herders will be able to plant desert cistanche besides it.

They need to use the saxaul branches to cut off the desert cistanche later, which grows deep and long under the sand. About 6 kilograms of fresh desert cistanche makes 1 kilogram of dried, which sells for about 170 yuan. The Chinese herb is used to make dishes including soup or soaked in white liquor, and is used as a kidney tonic, to protect the liver and minimize the effects of electronic radiation.

"It's a win-win and sustainable project to raise the income of the local residents and improve the climate. As in Alashan, the foundation's ecological programs often choose plants that are adaptable to the local environments, for example, growing tea in Guizhou province," Huang said.

She said it will take three to five years to finish phase one of the project, and economic benefits will come at that time. The process is subject to annual precipitation.

Alashan League has been planting saxaul and desert cistanche for several years. It has about 20,000 hectares of similar bases for both plants, with an annual yield of 993 metric tons of dried desert cistanche.

In 2013, the China Wild Plant Conservation Association named Alashan League the hometown of desert cistanche.

"We've been promoting the mode of saxaul and desert cistanche bases in Alashan League, with the aim of an increase of 13,333 hectares every year. Alashan's rich resources will help its development of forest and sand industry," Qiao said.

The bureau has three kinds of ecological programs, he added.

Some are open for public bids so experienced companies can help reforest the Gobi desert, and the bureau's staff will later maintain the forests. Some NGOs and enterprises such as Seagate have launched forestation projects in Alashan. Individual residents also plant saxaul, and will get some compensation from government.

"As more and more enterprises and herders join such ecological programs, I believe Alashan's climate will be improved and living standards of local residents will be enhanced," Qiao said.

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