Surrounded by the Tengri and Badain Jaran deserts, 94 per cent of the land in Minqin County has become desert, and the desert continues to encroach on agricultural land at a rate of 3-4 metres every year. Desert expansion, land infertility and lack of water have brought a continuous decline in living standards for local communities.
Planting trees is a potential solution. FuturaGene, a subsidiary of Suzano, is running a field trial to test which species grow best in desert conditions and develop suitable management practices, enabling farmers to maximize the social, economic and environmental benefits of tree plantations. By the end of the trial, FuturaGene aims to identify suitable species/clones for different uses and develop a set of best management practices for each one. Sharing this information will enable governments and other organizations to promote, replicate and scale up the project.