Combating Desertification and Migration into Cities in the Gansu Province in China

Funding: Collective Research-Project in the 6th EU-Framework Programme
Project Duration: 01.03.2005 - 01.03.2006
Project Manager:

LADAS aims to investigate possibilities for land amelioration, and for combating desertification and migration into cities in the Gansu province in China, by testing the salt resistance and growth behaviour of the Short-Rotation-Plant Salix.

In many transition zones between desert and abandoned farm land saline/brackish water often is the only available irrigation source. In order to re-cultivate these areas and to strengthen the basis for the livelihood of the people, suitable species and cultivation methods have to be investigated. Large abandoned areas can be reclaimed if Short-Rotation-Plantations are applied successfully. The socio-economic and ecological value of land reclamation and ecological restoration can make huge contribution towards sustainable development in desert threatened areas.

Water scarcity, desertification, land salinisation and loss of fertile land are identified as direct consequences of ecological degradation caused by water resource depletion and improper land/water management in line with population growth and increasing pressure on land. In China, 35 million people are directly affected by these problems. Large areas of farm land are forced to be abandoned. Currently there are 27 million hectares of saline-alkali land in China, and the number is increasing.

To reverse these negative trends, it is of vital importance to find new measures for combating the loss of farm land. Traditional methods of saline-alkali soil reclamation do not fit in desert transition areas due to the large amount of required fresh water. Because of the capability of Salix plants to recycle saline and brackish water, to stabilize the ecosystem and to provide valuable biomass, the LADAS consortium is investigating the feasibility of cultivating Salix to stop the loss of farm land and the desertification process, and to regenerate transition zones between desert and abandoned farm land. The Salix plants can be cultivated in Short-Rotation-Plantations or be combined with other native species.