Inner Mongolia: Fighting Desert Turned Into Profits
A paper factory based in
Below are extracts from an article written by Reuters and published by the Daily Times:
The key lies in the desert willow, a plant suited to the temperature extremes and lack of moisture of the Mongolian plains. All farmers need do to look after it is chop off the branches once every three to four years, or the plant dies.
These fibrous branches of the plant, which grows wild in Inner Mongolia, are then sold by local farmers to Dongda Paper, once a loss-making, state-owned paper factory forced to close in 1998 as even by
Dongda today buys more than 400,000 tonnes of desert willow branches a year, and it has also planted more than 20,000 square km (7,700 sq miles) of desert with the plant, which can grow up to 2.5 metres (8 feet) tall.
“Whenever people talk about paper-making factories, they make a link with pollution,” general manager Lin Yong told Reuters during a recent visit.
“We took environmental protection into consideration when we started the company. The paper pulp we produce is its original colour. No bleach, no pollution,” he said, looking at branches being fed into enormous crushing machines.
Earlier this month, the government said desertification was the main environmental challenge holding back
As well as eating up valuable farm land, the expanding deserts have helped fuel vicious sandstorms that lash northern
Lin said their factory did not only help by reducing demand for trees to make paper and helping bind together the desert sand, but was trying to be environmentally friendly, too. “The small amount of black liquid extracted from the waste water is vaporised, concentrated and dried. It’s turned into retarder for cement,” Lin said. “Nothing is wasted here. We profit from it all.” Dongda is a valuable employer as well, with about 300 workers and annual sales of $11 million.