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japan: greening the mongolian desert in china

Desertification, which destroys the ecological basis of people’s livelihoods, is a major cause of poverty and hunger around the world. One quarter of the planet’s land area is desertified today, and one sixth of the world’s population is affected. Many people are forced to abandon their lands, becoming ecological refugees.
japan: greening the mongolian desert in chinaPlanting trees with Japanese volunteers.The people of Horqin Sandy Land in Inner Mongolia, China, have traditionally lived from the land, grazing their goats, sheep and cattle in the grasslands. However, overgrazing, increased agriculture and deforestation over the past decades due to the population boom in China have put great pressure on grasslands, with an estimated 2,500 square kilometres of land turning into desert each year. Green areas are replaced with dry, infertile sand, and local people are unable to support themselves.


In reaction to this situation, Friends of the Earth Japan began working with a village in the Horquin Sandy Land area in 2001 in a project called ‘Greening the Desert’. By 2010, their collaboration had expanded to twelve villages and two junior high schools in the area.


Joint activities include planting trees and protecting grasses to allow them to recover. Ultimately, lands are being transformed into farmlands and grassy fields so that people can once again graze their cattle. They will also be able to sell cut grass in order to earn money. In 20 years, it is predicted that they will be able to supplement their incomes by selling trees as logs, while avoiding excess deforestation.


Friends of the Earth Japan will continue to support and encourage their efforts so that they can live in coexistence with nature by themselves.


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