From August 26 to September 7, 111 volunteers from 13 companies traveled to Lingwu, Ningxia. They visited Baijitan National Nature Reserve, where they learnt a lot about desertification and practiced the unique way of sand control, constructing straw grids on the sandy land.
The nature reserve is located on the western south side of Mao Wu Su Sandy land. You can see the conserved original sandy land here, to compare the acres of land covered with grass and shrubs. The contrast shows such a significant change after years of reforestation work.
It rained a day before the first group of volunteers came, making it a good time to spread the seeds among the grids. The volunteers broadcasted the seeds of Caragana in the field. These seeds speared out of the earth and sprouted a week later.
Making straw grids is not an easy job. Following the instructions of the local workers, every two volunteers worked as a team. One was paving abandoned straws evenly on the sandy land along a line, and the other stepped on a shovel from the middle of straws, so that two ends of the straw would stand up to form natural barriers. Repeating the steps again and again, the volunteers found many details to pay attention to, the evenness of paved straws, the straightness of the line, the proper spacing between the two straw lines, the push on stepping on the shovel etc. The weather was very hot during daytime under the sun, every volunteer sweated a lot while making these straw grids. It’s such an incredible work the locals have being doing constructing acres of straw grids. The straw grids can effectively slow down wind speed above the ground, protect the seeds from being blown away and also help the seedings to grow. Gradually, the vegetation coverage and biodiversity will increase significantly on the land covered with straw grids.
The volunteers visited the sand control exihibition museum. Some of them went to the forest sites planted last year and were taught how to identify the plants on the sandy land. They also learn about ecological niche and share what they learnt with families and friends. During the whole trip, the volunteers kept using one’s own chopsticks and water bottle, pick up the trash along the way to lead a eco lifestyle. Everyone makes a different!