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​The Heroes behind the Green Great Wall of China

Bonn, 23/12/13. The "Three North Shelterbelt Project" in China is the world’s largest afforestation project. It has restored over 26.47 million hectares of wasteland. If its trees were lined up at three meters apart, they would circle the equator 2,300 times.

To mark the 35th anniversary of the project, Xinhua News Agency, China’s largest media group and a major global media player, led a national campaign to combat desertification in China from August to October 2013.

As part of the campaign, they have published the articles below titled, "Afforesting the Northern Tier of China" on the project, highlighting its successes and failures, through the lives of seven of its pioneers. Some of these local heroes have lost their entire families, but they are not quitting.

“Media has a special role in raising awareness and encouraging action in caring for our home, the Earth, by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of the future generations,” says Ma Jianguo, Senior correspondent and Director in charge of Xinhua's cooperation with UN agencies and International institutions.

In September 2012, Xinhua signed a partnership with the UNCCD to raise awareness about desertification around the world.

Under the leadership of President Li Congjun, Xinhua has been actively engaged in building a green environment and other UN-led causes.

The 2013 media campaign is part of their corporate social responsibility to support global efforts to combat desertification, during which the agency’s President, Li Congjun, travelled to the field to plant trees and interview the heroes.

In September 2013, Xinhua also sponsored the production of two short films on desertification campaigns in the Sahel, Ethiopia and China, for the UNCCD’s tenth session of the Conference of the Parties, and for distribution globally.

In June, national governments started honoring heroes that are in the frontline of desertification campaigns in their countries as part of the Convention’s Drylands Champions programme. These are individuals and institutions who disagree with the view that land is to be overused and then discarded.

Instead, they are investing their lives to secure healthy land for use today and by generations to come.

Next year’s heroes will be announced on 17 June 2014, during the World Day to Combat Desertification.

“We want to inspire more people around the world to contribute their efforts to build a more beautiful home, our Earth,” says Ma.

Afforesting the Northern Tier of China

Reforms Pave the way for Heroes

Heroes: the costs

The benefits and the Splendor of Life

Heroes Fighting relentlessly Niu Yuqin: A Xinjian poplar

Heroes Fighting relentlessly: Yin Yuzhen

Oasis of the Soul

For information on the Drylands Champions programme contact:
Awareness Raising, Communication and Education unit:

For information about the ‘Three Norths Shelterbelt Project’, contact:
Wagaki Mwangi,

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