China’s “Green Deserts” – Gaoming Jiang

From China Dialogue:

China’s tree-planting movement continues down a worrying path. The planting of artificial, single-species forests has not abated in China; in fact, it has worsened. The country’s original distribution of trees: fir trees in the south, poplars in the north, has made way for poplars everywhere – north, south, east and west. There are even attempts to start poplar plantations on the southern tropical island of Hainan.

High-density, single-species forests are a source of almost never-ending problems. Some even call them “green deserts” since they are very poor at retaining soil or water, unproductive and monocultural. China has the largest area of artificial forests in the world, but ranks last in terms of these forests’ productivity. These single-species require the constant use of fertilisers and other chemicals. They are weak ecosystems that are vulnerable to disease and pests, which can devastate large areas. They are also unattractive; artificial forests in scenic areas and along roads and railways are nothing to look at. [Full text]


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