Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is an important ecological screen for north China, and even the whole country. Building a green great wall to ensure China's ecological security is one of the priorities of the autonomous region.
The largest ecological function zone in north China, Inner Mongolia has a variety of landscapes, including forests, grasslands, wetlands, rivers and lakes. In recent years, the region's environment has improved, with its forest and grassland area having increased and desert reduced.
However, it still faces a number of challenges in ecological preservation.
For instance, the region faces severe water shortage with the number of lakes with an area of more than 1 square km dropping from 427 in 1987 to 145 in 2010. In addition to a lack of precipitation, huge water consumption in agricultural and industrial production has worsened the water shortage. Excessive use of fertilizers has damaged the soil and affected the growth of grass, accelerating desertification.
The local government encourages planting trees on grassland as they can get more subsidies for trees than by growing grass. However, the trees they plant often have a low survival rate as they have a high water consumption rate. Also, to treat wetlands, some areas have planted a large number of a single tree species. This practice may damage biodiversity and endanger the survival of certain animals.
Experts suggest taking the region's water resources and weather conditions into consideration in future ecological projects.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Outlook Weekly on November 12)