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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Huge Sinkholes Are Swallowing Up Turkey’s Farmland

Hundreds of new sinkholes have been reported in Turkey’s agriculturally-focused Konya Province since the start of the year, almost double the number registered last year, and apparently it’s yet another man-made problem.

Konya Provine, located in the eponymous Konya Plain, has always been known as Turkey’s breadbasket or green silo, because of the vast sea of wheat spanning every which way, as far as the eye can see. But while Konya remains the country’s main agricultural center, the persistent drought plaguing farmers in this area has caused an unforeseen problem that has only been getting worse in recent years – sinkholes. As cultivators increasingly turn to groundwater to keep their crops alive, the giant caverns drained of water eventually collapse under the weight of the soil above, creating holes tens of meters across and up to 150-meters-deep.

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Retired Couple Have Been Fighting the Desert for Almost Two Decades

A retired elderly couple has been fighting the desertification of their home in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region for the last 19 years by planting hundreds of hectares of drought-resistant plants.

Seventy-year-old Tububatu and his wife Taoshengchagan live in a village on the edge of Badain Jaran, China’s third-largest desert, and they’ve been spending every day since their retirement (in 2002) fighting the advancement of the desert with the help of plant-life. Others had tried fighting the desert and failed, but Tububatu just wanted to know if he could make a difference. He started out by planting just 50 trees, but kept doubling his efforts to the point where he now plants thousands of saplings a year. His small desert oasis now spans over 266 hectares and numbers tens of thousands of drought-resistant trees.

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Cosmetics Company in Hot Water After Its Paper Bottle Turns Out to Be Plastic

South Korean beauty brand Innisfree has attracted a lot of criticism after a bottle labeled as being made of paper turned out to be plastic simply wrapped in thin cardboard.

Innisfree,  a company that specializes in naturally-inspired beauty products, apparently didn’t expect anyone to actually check if the bottle for its face serum was actually made of paper, as suggested by the texture of the packaging and the “Hello, I’m paper bottle” branding printed on it. Only someone did check, slicing open the thin cardboard only to find a regular plastic bottle inside. This person posted photos of their discover on a Facebook group called “No Plastic Shopping,” and it didn’t take long for them to go viral.

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Eco-Warrior Spends 24 Years Turning Barren Hills Into Lush Green Forest

Once called a madman and laughed at by members of his community, an Indonesian man is now being hailed as a hero after spending a quarter of a century covering 250 hectares of barren hillsides around his home with banyan and ficus trees.

The story of Sadiman, the Indonesian man who singlehandedly brought a forest back to life, began in the early 1990s, but the problem he helped fix can be traced back to the 1960s. It was then that great forest fires ravaged the forests on the southern slope of Lawu Mountain, in Central Java, turning hundreds of hectares state-owned pine forest to ash and leaving barren hills in their place. For decades dozens of villages in the Regency of Wonogiri battled draughts and famine, until an unlikely hero took it upon himself to bring back the forest and create a better life for him and his community.

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Indian Man Turns Barren Land Into 10,000-Tree Orchard

An Indian man who started planting trees in a barren, sand-filled field 15 years ago is now being praised for transforming the wasteland into a 10,000-tree orchard.

Satyendra Gautam Manjhi, a simple man from the small village of Imaliyachak, in the Indian state of Bihar, claims he was inspired to start planting trees after being visited by Dashrath Manjhi, known as “the man who moved a mountain“. The story of how he spent over 20 years chiseling away at a mountain to make a road to his village has inspired a generation, including the protagonist of this story. Satyendrav says that Dashrath himself told him to start planting an orchard, and that’s exactly what he did.

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This Mural Absorbs as Much Pollution as 780 Trees

Who would have though that simply painting a mural on the side of a building would one day have the same pollution-cleaning effect as planting 780 trees?

Organized by the sportswear company Converse as part of their City-Forests campaign, the latest mural in the Polish city of Warsaw is not only an aesthetically pleasing artwork, but also an ingenious way to tackle urban pollution. Painted using photocatalytic paint with titanium dioxide, on a building that faces the busy metro station Politechnika, the ingenious mural reportedly attracts airborne pollutants before converting them into harmless nitrates through a chemical process involving sunlight.

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Idaho Forest Area Looks Like a Chessboard from Space

Idaho’s natural environment is famous for many things, including breathtaking beauty and fascinating wildlife, but perfect geometry isn’t among them. That’s why this photo of a forest area along Priest River taken from the International Space Station has been getting a lot of attention online.

In January of 2017, astronauts aboard the International Space Station shared a picture of what resembled a near-perfect chessboard pattern located in an area around Whitetail Butte in northern Idaho’s Bonner County. Apparently, the squares in this landscape are the result of a forest management technique dating back to the 1800s, where alternate one-square-mile parcels of land were granted to the US Government to the US Railroad and various other companies. This method ensured the sustainability of forest areas while also enabling logging operations.

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Indonesia’s Real-Life Spiderman Fights Littering and Plastic Pollution

After struggling to convince members of his community to join him in making their streets and beaches cleaner by picking up trash, an Indonesian man put on a superhero outfit in hopes of becoming more convincing.

Rudi Hartono, a cafe worker from Pare-Pare, South Sulawesi, had long been struggling to persuade residents of his small coastal community to get more involved in keeping their home clean by picking up the plastic trash strewn on streets and beaches, but had had little success. But then he put on a Spiderman suit just to amuse his nephew, and people took notice. He accidentally became somewhat of a local role-model, and people started following his example.

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Thousands of Birds Found Dead Near Indian Lake And No One Knows What Killed Them

Wildlife experts in India are trying to make sens of the mysterious deaths of thousands of birds near the country’s largest inland lake. While the reported death toll is currently around 2,000, locals claimed that it could reach 5,000, as carcasses allegedly cover an area stretching from 12 to 15 km around the lake.

Sambhar Lake, 80km south-west of the city of Jaipur, is India’s largest inland lake and a popular gathering place for migratory birds like flamingos, storks, sandpipers, redshanks, black-winged stilts, among dozens of species. Last Sunday, however, locals alerted authorities that the lake shoreline had become an eerie graveyard for thousands of birds, with only a few dozen still left alive as far as the eye could see. There were reportedly so many bodies that when people first saw them, they mistook them for piles of cow dung, but it didn’t take them long to realize that they were really bird carcasses from more than 10 species.

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South Korean Mayor Dumps Tonne of Trash on Pristine Beach for International Clean-Up Day

On September 21, volunteers across the globe, from Thailand to Hawaii, gathered on their local beaches to clean up trash and make a powerful statement about the poor state of our environment? But what about volunteers with no dirty beaches to clean? Well, some of them got a bit of help from local authorities.

Late last month, a South Korean mayor came under fire after revealing that he dumped a tonne of trash on a pristine beach just so hundreds of volunteers could clean it up the next day, in celebration of the International Coastal Cleanup Day. His office later apologized, saying that there wasn’t any trash for people to pick up, and that they only did it to “raise awareness about the seriousness of coastal waste”.

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The Brazilian Couple Who Brought a Dead Subtropical Rainforest Back to Life

Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado is a world renowned social documentary photographer and photojournalist from Brazil, but few people know that he is also the mastermind behind one of the most amazing environment restoration projects in history. Together with his wife, Salgado has nearly completed the recovery of a single uninterrupted section of the Atlantic Forest, planting millions of saplings over the last two decades.

The story of Instituto Terra, the non-profit organization founded by Sebastião Salgado and his wife, Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado, began in 1998. The celebrated photographer had recently returned from Rwanda, where he had documented the tragedies of war. The horrors he witnessed during those troubled wars haunted him long after he left Africa, and at one point he completely lost both his faith in humanity and the desire to shoot photos. It was around this time that Sebastião’s parents offered him and Lélia the old farm he had grown up in, and he took the opportunity to return home thinking that the idyllic paradise he remembered would help him heal. However, he found that his home was nothing like he remembered it.

Salgado grew up on a 1,750-acre farm in the state of Minas Gerais 70 miles inland from Brazil’s Atlantic coast. He recalls that, when he was only a boy, the Atlantic Forest covered half his family’s farm and half the Rio Doce Valley, and that the fauna that called it home created a cacophony of sounds every day. But that wasn’t the sight he came home to in the mid 90’s.

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Double Amputee Turns Barren Hills into Lush 17,000-Tree Forest

Ma Sanxiao, a 70-year-old double amputee and army veteran from Jingxing, North China’s Hebei province, has pent the last 19 years of his life planting thousands of trees and turning the once barren hills surrounding his village into a small forest.

Ma was diagnosed with blood poisoning in 1974, while serving in the Chinese Army. His condition got worse after he retired, and eventually had both legs amputated because of it – his right leg in 1985, and the left one in 2005. After seven major operations and constant medical treatments, he could barely afford to take care of his family, and ,because of his disability, finding a job proved very difficult. His veteran subsidy was enough to cover his medicine, but he couldn’t remain idle, so in 2000, after getting inspired by another tree-planting story on TV, the double-amputee started planting parasol trees in the barren hills around his remote village, with the intention of selling them for profit.

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Female Vigilante Group Has Been Defending This Indian Forest for 20 Years

A group of 75 female volunteers from India’s Odisha state has spent every day of the last 20 years patrolling a 75-hectare forest to protect it from woodcutters and timber smugglers.

In 1999, the eastern state of Odisha was ravaged by a supercyclone. People lost their homes, their crops and had to go without food or clothing for several days. But many in Gundalba, a small village in the Mahanadi delta of Puri district, realized that the only reason they were still alive was thanks to a forest and mangrove area that had shielded them from the brunt of the devastation. They knew they had to protect it at all costs, but with all the men busy rebuilding the village after the supercyclone, the task of watching over the forest fell to the women. They quickly formed a vigilante group and  have been taking turns patrolling the forested area in search of timber smugglers and woodcutters for the last 20 years.

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