The Kubuqi International Desert Forum, a high-level dialogue platform for global initiatives to combat desertification and develop desert areas via innovative technologies, wrapped up on 10 July 2011 in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China. The Forum was opened by Madam Liu Yandong, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and State Counselor; over 300 participants from all over the world were in attendance.
The Forum paired with a field trip to see various interventions on combating desertification, which revealed the long battle China has waged in its efforts to rehabilitate degraded lands.
At the Forum, Mr. LeRoy Hollenbeck, Head of UNAPCAEM, presented the Centre¡¯s approach to apply innovative agro-technologies and share good agricultural management practices in combating desertification and land degradation. Mr. Hollenbeck¡¯s presentation garnered the attention of many participants, including Mongolia¡¯s Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism; the Russian Academy of Sciences ¨C Baikal Institute of Nature Management; and the CEO of Elion Resources Group. Each expressed their willingness to work with UNAPCAEM in the region on its innovative approach to substantively address land degradation while simultaneously addressing reductions in poverty.
Elion Resources Group in particular has accumulated two decades of experience in fighting desertification in the Kubuqi desert and has invested over 2 billion yuan (285 million U.S. dollars) on such work. UNAPCAEM is looking at partnering with Elion and other private sector companies interested in sustainable land management and efforts to rehabilitate degraded lands as well as enhance rural livelihoods.
In addition, UNAPCAEM in partnership with the Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI) is working to develop a number of activities that could enhance government efforts to formulate and implement policies that address land tenure and sustainability of rural communities. Formulation, implementation, and sustainable management will require integration of a large number of disciplines, i.e., climate, ecology, soils, plants and agro-technologies (machinery; irrigation systems) and coordination among agencies involved in appropriate land use management. This is a timely development as heavy grazing demand on fragile ecosystems, annual cropping of lands better suited for perennial grasslands and rangeland species, and the associated unsustainable exploitation of water resources for irrigation have led to loss of biodiversity and widespread soil salinization and desertification in many parts of the Asia-Pacific region.
The Kubuqi desert in which the Forum takes place lies to the south of the Yellow River after it makes a sharp turn north and then east into Inner Mongolia. The Kubuqi desert is 50 kilometers wide in the west, 15-20 kilometers wide in the east and covers an area of 16,756 sq. kilometers, making it the seventh largest desert in China.