You can never go wrong with tree-planting. It is popular in India, where natives planted 66 million seedlings in record time. In Burma, engineering groups are using drones to restore forests. However, tree-planting in the Gobi desert is addressing a more urgent matter — desertification. In order to address erosion and degradation, the Chinese government is working on building a giant wall of trees, otherwise known as the Green Great Wall.
By 2050, the government intends to plant 88 million acres of forests in a belt nearly 3,000 miles long and up to 900 miles wide in places.
As a country swallowed by deserts and that is oddly skilled in wall-building, the project makes sense. Over the years, it has stabilized deserts and reduced the frequency of sandstorms. However, it has faced backlash. Most of the trees are planted in areas they don’t grow naturally and eventually die out. Thousands of farmers have been forced off their land to make way for trees.
“Combating sand is the [government’s] project, so it has deep political meaning. There are bureaucrats in every province and county. They get a lot of money for planting trees.”
There is no denying that the scheme is problematic, despite being well-intentioned. While a Green Great Wall may seem the easiest solution, perhaps we ought to be smarter about where we plant our trees.