More than 100 students from the Republic of Korea and People’s Republic of China, together with the All China Youth Federation, planted 10,000 willow tree saplings on the edge of Kubuqi desert in China in the against fight against sand encroachment on nearby communities and yellow dust storms that affect most of the east Asia region.
The people of Dalatequi, including middle school students, police officers and taxi drivers, joined the tree planting exercise that took place on 29-31 March. Dalatequi is the town most affected by the desert’s sand encroachment.
The event was part of “Save the Earth” Green Corps tree planting initiative organized by UNCCD Drylands Ambasador Byong-Hyon Kwon and his organization, Future Forest.
“This is the 13th year of the Great Green wall initiative and the eighth year of tree planting in Kubuqi,” Ambassador Kwon says.
“You can see how the trees have grown over these eight years. Our initiative, along with others, has demonstrated how we could stop sand encroachment. If our effort is replicated, I am certain that we can solve a number of problems that people here and in Asia face from desertification and yellow dust.”
The 13th Green Corps issued a declaration in which they committed to replicate the greening effort in other degraded lands.
Park Eun Mong, a student from Korea, said, “I was overwhelmed by the endless desert of Kubuqi. It was totally impressive. But then I saw the people who have been suffering from the desert’s encroachment. We must prevent the sand encroaching on the nearby community.”
Ha-Lim Jang said she had not thought much about environmental protection before she participated in the Green Corps. “But now, I learned I can do something to protect it. Desertification is not somebody else’s problem. It could happen in my hometown,” she said.
“Save the Earth” initiative is a one-year programme in the Republic of Korea to educate University students about the importance of sustainable land management. The tree planting in Kubuqi is the highlight of the programme. They learn how to fix sand and plant trees from the local foresters. Then they stay in Beijing for two days to learn more about desertification and sustainable land management.
“Before I participated in Green Corps, I thought environmental protection was a big and difficult issue. But I contributed to environmental protection by planting a tree. It was simpler than I thought. And I want to tell that to my friends once I am back in Korea,” said Jin Su Park.
Yong-Dok Song, President and CEO of Lotte Hotels and Resorts, a luxury hotel from Korea, and his team also participated in the tree planting. When guests to the hotel chose to reuse their towels and bedsheets, it saves on water and some running costs, which savings the hotel donates towards tree planting in the Kubuqi Desert.
“Every spring I see people in Korea suffer from the yellow dust storm,” Mr Song said, “this is why I wanted to contribute to the fight against desertification of Inner Mongolia. Its environmental protection concerns us all.”