On leaving Shanghai we collected money from our yard sale and we got donations from several friends for the TreesForPeace project. This time we decided to channel the resources to “The Million Tree Project”, run by Roots&Shoots Shanghai. 105 trees are planted this week in Tongliao, Inner Mongolia. Next week we will travel through Inner Mongolia by train on the way to Ulan Bataar in Mongolia proper.
It is a few hundred kilometers north of Beijing, where the grasslands are dying. In the distant past, vast forests covered the north of China. There were few people and lots of wildlife. In these areas it was easy to clear a plot of land and grow grains for a hundred years or so, while depleting the rich soil that the forests had created over the millennia. Today, almost all of northern China is desert or half-desert. Many of the old cities are desolate ruins.
The deserts create huge problems for the Beijing area, both for fresh water supply and for air pollution. Dust from the deserts is mixed with coal-power-plant-exhausts and dirty diesel smoke to create a killing smog.
It is essential to rebuild the forest cover, tree by tree, to make northern China livable again. It will be difficult, but we can make it together. 105 trees is just a drop in the ocean, or a grain of sand in the Gobi desert. But it is a small step in the right direction.
For those of you who are in China, you can donate to the Million Tree Project via their Taobao store.