Project lists

Fighting desertification with innovative restoration models
29 Dec 2020     
Project title: Demonstration project for vegetation restoration and management and utilization of forest resources in Greater Central Asia (Chifeng sites) [Project ID: 2017P1-INM]
Supervisory agency: Chifeng Municipal Forestry Bureau
Executing agency: Aohan Sanyijing State-owned Forest Farm, Aohan Banner
Budget in USD (total/APFNet grant): 744,000/500,000
Project duration: January 2017–December 2019
Target economy: China
Location: Aohan Banner, Chifeng City, China
Establish two comprehensive demonstration sites to demonstrate techniques for sand prevention and control; vegetation restoration and management; and utilization of forest resources in Greater Central Asia.

Expected outcomes:
1. Research report outlining typical models for desertification prevention and control in Chifeng.
2. Establish 70 ha vegetation restoration demonstration forest in sandy areas.
3. Establish 39 ha economic forest demonstration site in sandy areas.
4. Capacity building and training of 500 people.
5. Domestic and international exchange and training for 20 people.
6. Compile a project technical training manual.


Desertification is a looming threat in many parts of the world. More than one billion people are under threat of desertification, with many living in Greater Central Asia. With about one-third of Inner Mongolia classified as desert and more than one-third categorized as degraded land, the fight against desertification is one of the key issues in the area.
Significant achievements have been made in the past. However, there is still a strong need for new reforestation models that sustainably combat desertification as well as methods to increase the production of local non-timber forest products without negatively impacting the land. In 2017, APFNet, in cooperation with the Sanyijing State-owned Forest Farm, started a demonstration project in Aohan Banner, Inner Mongolia, to address these issues.
Defeating the Yellow Dragon
Many methods to combat desertification have been tried in the past with mixed results. Building on these efforts, this project will evaluate a number of different forest restoration models to achieve multiple benefits including combating climate change, controlling desertification, improving livelihoods and the overall environment of the region.
A 70 ha demonstration forest will be established using species such as yellowhorn, Xinjiang poplar and Mongolian scots pine. A research report will summarize the results of the restoration approaches.

Restoration type Restoration model
  1. Grass/tree planting sand barrier
  2. Stones and gravel sand barrier
  3. Willow twig/metal net sand barrier
  4. Organic biodegradable fibres (PLA) sand barrier
  5. Plastic net sand barrier
  1. Liquid mulch plastic covers
  1. Shelterbelt forest
  2. Topography-based planting
  3. Integrated mosaic restoration
Fenced off
  1. Fencing
  2. Fencing + seeding
  3. Fencing + seedling planting
Bringing fruit to the desert

Apricots and Armenian plums have long been grown in Aohan Banner, and are considered a traditional non-timber forest product. Unfortunately, yields are exceedingly low. With better site preparation, grafting, pruning, application of fertilizer and additional watering, together with regular tending, the fruiting rates and yields will be significantly increased. One particular “fruit” tree cultivated during this project is yellowhorn, which shows great commercial potential.
Yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium)
Despite a long history of cultivation, yellowhorn is an underappreciated non-timber forest product and can provide a livelihood for local people.
With increasing aridity threatening the survival of other species, the extremely drought-resistant and very hardy yellowhorn is able to survive temperatures as low as -41 °C, and grows on both sandy and rocky soils.
Growing to only 5 m tall, this member of the soapberry family (in the same family as maple or horse chestnut) grows large fruits containing 6–18 seeds, of which up to 70 percent of each seed can be made into oil. The oil can be used as medicine for relieving pain and swelling, lubrication, or be made into paint, plasticizer and skin care products. Given its potential to produce a range of versatile products, the average price per 100 ml of oil is CNY 100 (USD 15). This is likely to increase as the product becomes more well-known. Tea made from leaves and flowers is another product.
In Aohan Banner, one of the mixed demonstration forests will contain a block mixture of Mongolian pine and yellowhorn. Mongolian pine will form a shelterbelt for the yellowhorn plantings, achieving multiple benefits by curbing desertification and producing products that can contribute to local livelihoods.

Figure 3-4: Watermelon at the time of planting and harvest at an agroforestry demonstration site. Photos: Sanyijing Forest Farm