China’s Anti-Desertification Poster Family Has Been Fighting the Gobi Desert for 22 Years

Wang Tianchang and his family moved into the Gobi Desert 22 years ago, at a time when most people were running away from the encroaching wasteland. The Wangs have been fighting the desert ever since, becoming a symbol of China’s anti-desertification campaign.

Desertification is one of China’s most serious environmental problems. The great Gobi Desert at stretching along the border with Mongolia has so far eaten away about 650 million acres of the country’s land and is showing no signs of slowing down. As it moves ever deeper into the heart of China, massive sandstorms blow sand into the capital Beijing and other major cities, putting millions of lives at risk. The Great Green Wall, a reforestation program designed to create a 2,800-mile tree barrier at the edge of the advancing desert has had limited success so far, but the Chinese media machine focuses less on the shortcomings and more on the successes, using everyday heroes like Wang Tianchang and his family.

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The Desert Healer – Man Spends Two Decades Creating Green Oasis in Middle of Cold Desert

Anand Dhawaj Negi, a retired bureaucrat turned desert farmer, spent over two decades of his life turning the cold wastes of northern India’s Himachal Pradesh into a vibrant oasis.

In 1977, the Indian Government kickstarted an ambitious program to mitigate the adverse effects of desertification in the Asian country’s cold and hot deserts. A. D. Negi  worked in the financial department in charge of the Desert Development Program and saw millions of dollars go down the drain with no real results to show for it. Whenever he asked scientists and officials involved in the program why there was no real progress, the answer would always be that they lacked the technology to develop any type of sustainable crops in the inhospitable environment that is the desert. A farmer’s son himself, Negi grew tired of excuses and took a leave of absence in 1999 to take a crack at it himself. By 2003, he had already permanently retired from his job to concentrate all of his energy on his growing desert oasis.

A native of Sunam village in Kinnaur, Negi took it upon himself to turn a barren patch of land in the cold desert of Himachal Pradesh into a green oasis just to show everyone, particularly the struggling farmers in the area that it could be done. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do in the world, but the former bureaucrat knew what he was getting into and had the ambition and patience to see it through.

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Researchers Use Wastewater to Grow 240-Hectare Forest in Egyptian Desert

Located near Ismailia, about two hours from Egypt’s capital, Cairo, Serapium Forest is nothing short of an environmental miracle – a 240-hectare forest of both native and non-native trees thriving in the middle of the desert.

Advancing desserts have become a serious problem throughout the African continent, but a team of German and Egyptian researchers has come up with a very efficient way of stopping desertification and even reclaiming land from the dry sands. While forests have been used to stop the spread of deserts into fertile land for a very long time, the absence of rainfall makes nurturing the trees and keeping them healthy an almost impossible task in most African countries. But it turns out we don’t have to rely on water falling from the sky, as waste water works even better for plants and trees not intended for human consumption.

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Shoyna – The Russian Village Fighting a Losing Battle against Sand

Shoyna, a small Russian village located on the edge of the arctic circle is often referred to as the world’s northernmost desert. The sand covers everything as far as the eye can see and the few people living here never dare shut their front doors at night, for fear of being buried alive by the ever-shifting dunes. But it wasn’t always like this…

Shoyna was settled in the 1930’s by fishermen drawn to the coast of the White Sea by the abundance of fish in the area. In just two decades, it had grown into a bustling fishing port with a population of around 1,500 people and a fleet of roughly seventy fishing boats. However, it wasn’t long before excessive trawling decimated the fish colonies and the fishery collapsed. The dozens of vessels lining the shore stopped coming and many of the families that had thrived in Shoyna slowly moved away. Today, the official number of inhabitants is 375, most of whom survive on unemployment benefits and pensions. Hunting is also a way to make ends meet, thanks to the large number of barnacle and Brent geese that use Shoyna as a stopover on their migration course, but the most lucrative job in the village is definitely that of bulldozer driver, as everyone needs their house dug up from the sand at one point.

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