China to restore BRI poplar tree forests

By Zhao Yusha in Wuwei Source:Global Times Published: 2018/9/13 23:18:40

Program will reduce overflow of Pakistan’s Indus River: foundation

Artificially built desert poplar tree forest in desert in Wuwei, Northwest China's Gansu Province Photo: courtesy of Zhou Lei

Artificially built desert poplar tree forest in desert in Wuwei, Northwest China's Gansu Province Photo: courtesy of Zhou Lei

China's campaign to plant desert poplar trees helps restore the ecological system and brings economic benefits to countries involved in the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), and helps reduce the overflow of the Indus River, a Chinese environmental organization said.

At a forum in Wuwei, Northwest China's Gansu Province on Thursday, Chen Shuxian, chairman of China Green Foundation (CGF), said that the Populus euphratica or desert poplar tree restoration plan will be first piloted in several countries along BRI, and will then gradually develop three routes for the restoration of the tree forests.

The three routes cover areas in Northwest China, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor.

The tree restoration campaign between China and Pakistan will be carried out along the Indus River.

The desert poplar tree is a pioneer species of the upper reaches of the Indus River and plays an important role in conserving and controlling the overflow of the river, CGF said.

We experience floods in western and southern India, Bhawani Shanker Kusum, president of Gram Bharati Samiti, an Indian-based organization, told the Global Times, noting that it has killed many people.

He said he recognizes the significance of China and Pakistan's plan to plant the tree on the upper reaches of the Indus River.

China aims to first build desert poplar trees in northern Pakistan (such as Lahore in Punjab and Peshawar Province) and explore cooperation models, CGF said.

The desert poplar trees in Central and West Asia start from Korla, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, extending to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Turkey, among others.

The CGF has proposed to build a desert popular tree national park in Xinjiang as a pilot program, which will serve as a business card for foreign aid cooperation in restoring the desert poplar tree forest.

The tree is a species in deserts in countries along BRI, which plays a unique role in sustaining ecological and economic development in these countries, Chen said.

Data from China's forestry bureaus shows that the tree not only has great ecological value but also helps promote the local tourism industry.

Desert poplar tree-centered tourism helped North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region attract 1.1 million tourists, an increase of 20 percent from last year, and tourists spent 1.4 billion yuan ($200 million).

The desert poplar tree forests in these countries are shrinking, and if not handled properly, this trend will affect the BRI, CGF said.

The desert poplar tree area in China accounts for 61 percent of the world. "Thus, China has the experience and technology in protecting and restorating the tree," Chen said.


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