Mu Us Desert, one of four China’s sandlands. More than a thousand years ago, it was a vast grassland, with clear water and beautiful scenery. Due to over-reclamation, climate change, war and other reasons, this land is like a contagious skin, deserted area continuously spread around. However, most of the area here are now covered in green again.
In August of this year, Shanghai Roots & Shoots recruited a volunteer team going to the southwest corner of this sandland, Ningxia Baijitan National Nature Reserve, to conduct ecological investigations in the shrub lands we planted previous year. The purpose of it is to track the changes in the ecological conditions of the lands through sampling the statistics of species, quantity and coverage of the sample sites. Particularly, changes in coverage is a key indicator reflecting the health status of dryland ecosystems.
Within a week, we had investigated 26 sample sites in three shrub lands (Year 2015, 2017 and 2018), 3,000 square meters in total. And we found 27 species and 16,592 plants in total. In addition, we took 10 aerial photographs of each of the three plots and one nature desert area for comparison for coverage analysis. And here is the result:
We can obviously see that the coverage increases as shrubs grow by years, and the coverage in three plots contrasts sharply with the nature desert. Besides, all three plots’ coverage exceed 10%, which indicates that the three plots have almost changed from mobile dune to semi-fixed dune.
Black beetles are frequent visitors during our investigation, and their size may be negligible comparing with our human beings. However, imagine we are left in a desert alone, how many days can we survive? When night falls, the temperature in the desert drops dramatically, and a large number of beetles will come to the sand dunes. They all insert their heads into the sand and then turn their backs in the direction of the fog. Since it is already a few hours after sunset, the water vapor in the air can condense into water droplets on the surface of the object with relatively low temperature, so that the water drops will be formed on the back of the beetles. At this time, the beetle's head is squatting downwards, and the condensed water naturally flows into the mouth along the groove on its back. These black beetles show us how wonderful the nature is, even a tiny creature has amazing wisdom and vitality. Nature is a natural classroom, every creature can be our teacher. This ecological journey taught us a lesson, the theme is: All creatures shall be respected.