Now, this may not be news at all to some of you, but I came across it while doing research and it tickled my fancy.

China is building a wall.

It’s going to be 2,800 miles long when it’s finished (which won’t be until 2050 or so), was started in 1978, and is made from trees.

The idea goes like this: every year China loses lots of land to the Gobi desert, which is expanding.  They want to stop the expansion, so they’re using sand-tolerant vegetation and gravel to encourage topsoil to stay put, and they’re planting trees.  Lots and lots of trees.  As of 2009 the forest covered 500,000 square kilometres.  That’s an area roughly the size of Spain.

Sounds like a great idea, right?  More trees means more carbon captured, less land lost to the desert, and a wind-break for the dust storms.

Not everyone is convinced.

The trees soak up a lot of groundwater, and experts are divided on whether the project is long-term viable.  The forest is mainly a monoculture, meaning it’s not the best habitat around and is vulnerable to disease.

My knowledge of silviculture is extremely limited at best, so I can’t really comment on whether they’re going about it the right way or not.  On the other hand, I like trees.