Aohanqi Chifeng City of Inner Mongolia
Located in the semi-arid area at the southern edge of the sandy region of Keerqin in Northern China, Aohanqi was seriously threatened by desertification due to the irrational use of natural resources.
Since the 1970s, large-scale environment-friendly construction has been undertaken. In the 1980s, Aohanqi Chifeng City adopted an ecosystem approach to land and resource management with an emphasis on ecosystem restoration, particularly reforestation of the hilly areas of the southern part of the County, agro-forestry in the central part and grassland protection in the north. The County has established effective mechanisms and related policies, which benefit farmers who support this approach.
After 30 years of hard work and commitment, the forest cover has reached 43.5% with 8,000 hectares of grass planted. About 381,300 hectares of small river catchments have been managed in an integrated way and 65% of soil erosion is under control. Fourteen nature reserves have been created covering 12% of the County. Movable sand dunes have been reduced to 6,000 hectares from 38,000 hectares 30 years ago. Soil erosion has decreased to 2,500 tons/km²/year from more than 5,000/km²/year, thus reducing the number of windy days by 22 days and increasing the ground water table by one metre.
Today, Aohanqi Chifeng City ranks first among the areas in China in terms of afforestation and grass planting. Food production has increased eight-fold since the 1970s, and the 1.6 billion GDP has increased 10-fold since that time. In addition, annual per capita income is 16 times more than what it was in the 1970s.
Aohanqi Chifeng City has become a model in desertification treatment in the semi-arid parts of northern China, and it was the first to be nominated as a National Ecological Demonstration Area by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) of China.