Vineyards Are Uprooting China’s Great Green Wall

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Vineyards Are Uprooting China’s Great Green Wall” – below is their description.

    Yangguan Forestry Farm has hit the headlines in China after local media accused the state-owned company of allowing hundreds of acres of forest to be illegally felled and replaced by vineyards—trees that were part of the so-called Green Great Wall designed to hold back the desert.  

    It’s the old struggle in China between a central government imposing grand plans to meet a long-term national agenda and local officials trying to maximize revenue to meet the goals of the latest five-year plan. But in this case the conflict goes much deeper, embracing some of the nation’s most intractable structural problems as it tries to undo decades of environmental degradation, curb the world’s worst emissions and stem an unrelenting migration to overcrowded eastern cities.

    The farm was established in the 1960s to counter the effects of desertification of this area. And a big chunk of that of that land have been given over to Dunhuang Wine Company in order for them to cultivate grape and jujube trees.

    The phenomenon is not restricted to Dunhuang. All across Gansu, vines have been springing up. The province is now China’s fourth-biggest producer of wine grapes.  In Zi Xuan Wine Estate, four hours’ drive from Dunhuang, visitors follow a guide down into a cellar deep underground where it’s cool enough to store over 7,000 barrels of wine.

    Yangguan Forestry Farm replaced and improved degraded forests over the years according to related laws and rules, Tian Baohua, deputy director of the Gansu Forestry and Grassland Administration, told Chinese media in January. He said the administration had found no instances of trees being cut to clear land for vines. A notice on a board outside the farm’s office says it took “50 years of hard work” to grow a “sand prevention screen stretching 5 kilometers in the desert, like a green wall that safeguards the Dunhuang Oasis.”

    Bloomberg made a number of attempts to speak to Dunhuang Wine about these allegations, including visiting their offices in Yangguan, but were not able to obtain an official response.

    The potential fallout from the mismanagement of the land became all too clear for residents and farmers alike this spring when the city was hit by one of the heaviest sandstorms in years. 

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    In This Story: China

    China is the third largest country in the world by area and the largest country in the world by population. Properly known as the People’s Republic of China, the political territory of the country includes the former nations of Tibet and Hong Kong. The capital is Beijing.

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