Hetian County Government
On the fringe of the Taklamakan Desert, Hetian County covers 4,300 square kilometres. There is an oasis of 710 square kilometres and 28,600 hectares are irrigated by melted snow. The annual rainfall is only about 38 mm. The three main natural problems of the county are spring drought, sand-laden wind, and salinisation of soil.
Before 1979 there were few trees. Since the establishment in 1980 of the "three north" protection forest system, 22,847 hectares of forest have been planted and a shelterbelt network established. As a result soil stayed moist, wind speeds were reduced and grain output raised from 60,000 tons to 100,000 tons. Cotton and edible oil output increased four times, and livestock numbers went up by 54%.
The county's achievement is an excellent example of reafforestation for sustainable development in harsh conditions.