HONG KONG (Yonhap News) ― Joint efforts by South Korea and China to stop desertification in the Inner Mongolian desert have made headway, creating a large artificial forest, a local government said Monday.
The Forestry Department at China’s autonomous region of Inner Mongolia said an 8.7-square-kilometer forest in the Ulan Buh Desert was completed by the Korea International Cooperation Agency, a central development aid agency under the authority of the South Korean foreign ministry, and the Bayan Nur municipal government.
The reforestation project took three years, with $2 million being injected into the work starting from 2008. The department said half of the money came from South Korea.
Some 3.6 million shrubs, such as Haloxylon, were planted in the forest, using South Korea’s anti-desertification technology, it said.
The Ulan Buh Desert, called Wulanbuhe in Chinese, stretches over west Inner Mongolia’s Alashan League, Wuhai City and Bayan Nur City, covering about 14,000 square kilometers along the Yellow River
The northern part of China has been plagued by desertification due to rapid deforestation, overgrazing and climate change. Dust storms that originate in the region regularly blow over South Korea and Japan, carrying pollution from China’s factories that causes environmental damage and respiratory problems.
According to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, China declared that more than 27 percent of its land is desert, while its grasslands have shrunk by 15,000 square kilometers annually since the early 1980s.
It is reported that desertification in China results in the economic loss of at least 22.7 billion yuan ($3.5 billion) every year.