In 2023, MTP restarted to recruit volunteers join us for the summer forest survey on assessing ecological recovery. From July 23 to July 28, there were five volunteers from places across China traveling to the project site to participate in the week-long survey. Some of them are college students, and the others are teacher and office workers. Although something unexpected happened, such as rainstorm and road closure, the volunteers completed the survey investigating 19794 plants of 47 species on 6 forest sites during the 6-day trip. They also went to the 2007-2008 forest site, the earliest MTP forest site, measuring trees’ growth index.
Special thanks to these volunteers! We hope that one day you will be one of them to join us visiting these forest sites. They wrote down their thoughts on these experiences, and we share them with you as follows.
On the road to Inner Mongolia, I have imagined a lot, some barren sandy land, a few grasses scattering on the ground, sands blown into the eyes. I know there are trees, but all I could think of was some branches with sandy background. I never imagined to see a forest like this.
The picture of the forest site before any tree planted is what I imagined. It was years ago. The soil on the ground of 2007-2008 forest site will need many years to form but turning it back to sandy land will only take few months. I hope one day all the land in Inner Mongolia will be covered with the nutrient soil like these, reflecting the sunshine, covered with layers of leaves in the autumn and trees dressed with snow in the winter.
I learnt a lot during the week, how to measure in each sample site, and how to distinguish plants from each other, i.e. Ixeris chinensis (Thunb.) Nakai, Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop., Cenchrus spinifex Cav., Chenopodium acuminatum Willd., different kinds of Corispermum, Setaria viridis (L.) Beauv.Chloris virgata Sw…..
Of course, the local cuisine is unforgettably delicious. I’m not a fan of pancakes, but the pancake there won my heart.
--- 志愿者 陈羽茜
by Yuxi Chen
From a personal standpoint, I believe that participating in this project's volunteer activities has given me a really special and meaningful experience. There are also two factors in my perspective. First off, as this volunteer project lasts 6 days and involves field work, volunteers can more easily imagine and experience the challenges of planting trees in Tongliao, the city which is remote to a certain degree. The main part of this volunteer activity is to make a one meter by one meter square in the planting area and count all the grasses in it with quantities and species. Although this exercise was monotonous, it did have several advantages for me, such as increasing my knowledge of plant species like Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop, Corispermum puberulum Iljin and Cenchrus spinifex Cav.
My second point is the impact of woodland improvements on local fauna. Tongliao has a huge number of wild animals, there are five kinds of national first-level protected animals: Red-Crowned Crane, White stork, Bustard, Sika Deer, and Sable; as well as nearly 30 kinds of national second-level protected animals such as Grey Crane, Swan, etc. Since under the effect of greenhouse gas, global warming and overgrazing, this region has suffered serious soil erosion and soil desertification. As a result, the Million Tree Project decided to improve the quality of the soil by increasing the vegetation cover through reforestation locally. One of the most significant changes is the increasing number of wildlife living here in these woodlands. For example, when I was volunteering here I noticed that there were a lot of birds roosting in the wetlands like wild black swans.
To conclude, I'm very thankful that I could have the opportunity to take part in this volunteer work since it has improved my knowledge of forestry, given me a wealth of new information, and given me a terrific and unforgettable workout.
--- 志愿者 雷予