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The Euphrates Poplar: Hero of the Desert

Each autumn, waves of tourists descend on Jinta County in China's Gansu Province. At that time, the large forest of Euphrates poplars begins to fade from dark green to yellow, before settling into a radiant golden amber as nature strolls through its annual cycle.

Reminiscent of a fairytale world, budding photographers travel thousands of miles just to capture this majestic sight.

Bordered by the two deserts of Badain Jaran and Kumtag, Jinta County suffers more than 400 sandstorms a year and is subject to some of the most serious desertification and sandstorm damage in China.

With more than a quarter of the nation's territory covered in desert, both expanding desertification and water shortages are major national issues. The problem is particularly acute in the northwest, where it has severely limited local economic growth and destroyed swathes of fertile land. Aeolian desert – where the wind propels the sand – gradually swallows farmland, enveloping fertile soil with a sand layer, in turn shutting off its water and air supplies, degrading fertility, and causing erosion.

The tenacious Euphrates Poplar forest, however, guards the land as a natural barrier. An ancient tree species that dates back more than 65 million years, this poplar is as hardy as it is beautiful. Resistant to cold, drought, and salinity, it serves as a natural windbreaker that helps with sand fixation, improves soil fertility, and regulates the climate. Windbreaking is crucial to halting desertification as it stops aeolian desert from spreading and swallowing what was once fertile land.

Locally, this hardy tree is known as the "desert hero."

My Poplar Forest

In the nation's extended fight against desertification, which has over time made China a global leader in greening desert, people and communities are also heroes, playing a pivotal role in implementing sand-fixation techniques such as crisscrossing wheat and rice straw and planting trees.

To curb desertification and conserve soil and water resources in Jinta County, Huawei and China Green Foundation launched the "My Poplar Forest" project in 2020, donating 50,000 trees to Jinta County. Huawei also called on people to participate by planting trees to increase overall forest cover. After 5 months of fundraising, the project had received more than 1.28 million donations from 25,500 people.

On April 8, 2021, the Spring Seed project was officially launched, with the first batch of 62,439 donated saplings beginning to be planted in the desert. As of April 2022, 72,652 poplar trees had been planted.

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In its lifetime, each tree absorbs 216 kg of carbon dioxide on average, and 42 poplars planted over 2,695 square meters can absorb 9059 kg. Based on this, the 62,439 trees planted in 2021 are expected to form a windbreak and sand-fixing forest area covering 1 square kilometer, which in turn will control sand damage over an area of 7.4 square kilometers.

  • 72,652

    poplar trees planted (as of April 2022)

  • 116

    hectares of desert reclaimed

The small act of planting a sapling has connected people from all over the world with the unforgiving terrain in the northwest of China and a desert that needs to be contained.

The “My Poplar Forest” project is a crucial step forward in preventing desertification in Jinta County under the environment domain of TECH4ALL.

The beauty of the Euphrates poplar is matched by its indomitable spirit. Huawei hopes to collaborate with more partners to contribute to the conservation of the natural ecosystem for future generations.Richard Yu
Executive Director, CEO of Consumer Business Group, Huawei