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Maowusu desert on the brink of becoming a green land

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【半世纪消灭千年沙漠:“毛乌素奇迹”不是偶然】Miracle in Maowusu desert no coincidence

Recently, a mission that the Chinese people have been fighting for nearly half a century suddenly started trending on social media platforms. The Maowusu desert, once one of the four major deserts in the country, is on the brink of becoming a green land.

The Maowusu desert is located on the border between Shaanxi province and Inner Mongolia autonomous region. It used to be known as the "devil's land". Fifty years ago, local people suffered badly from sand-related disasters. Just to get out of their house they had to break thick sand outside their gates with iron spades when their houses could be easily buried by ferocious sandstorms.

China has reduced the area of desert lands for many years running, and its achievements in desertification prevention and control have been highly praised by the whole world.

From 1959, local people had enough and decided to fight back the encroaching sand. Since then, trees have been planted to resist wind, and water channels have been built to turn the sandy land into farmland.

Shi Guangyin is a local farmer. Decades ago, he sold his family's livelihood - 84 sheep and a mule to buy saplings. In the ensuing decades, he planted about 40 million trees and created a six-km-wide green belt along the desert's 63-km-long border. When Yin Yuzhen married her husband, who lived in the desert, she could go over 40 days at a time without seeing anyone else. To relieve the loneliness in the seemingly endless desert, she would place a bowl on the sand to protect the footprint of a stranger passing outside her house. Yet, she never gave up her home and kept growing trees for thirty years.

After decades of enormous effort emerges a vast stretch of strikingly green fields, and 80 percent of the Maowusu desert has been transformed. Today, there are scientifically compounded sandy farmlands, herds of cattle and sheep and even highways.

Maowusu is a miracle. However, if we view the whole process of China's desertification prevention and control in perspective, we can see that it is by no means coincidental. It is attributed to the persistence and dedication of millions of people, as well as a long-term, scientific and targeted approach. People in Maowusu used to fight against desertification by only planting grass and trees. By the 1980s and 1990s, sound plans had been developed for water resources development and management. Nowadays, by developing small ecological economic forest projects and agricultural circles in sandy areas to curb desertification, local people have not only shaken off poverty but attained prosperity at the same time.

As one of the countries with the largest desert area in the world, China has reduced the area of desert lands for many years running, and its achievements in desertification prevention and control have been highly praised by the whole world. We expect more "Maowusu miracles" to appear on our planet Earth.

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