Inner Mongolia: Korean Air Sponsors Annual Forestation Project
Over 65 employees of South Korea’s Korean Air took part in tree planting for the sixth consecutive year in Kubuqi desert, in an attempt to curb further desertification of the region.
The article below was published by China Daily:
More than 65 employees from the South Korean flagship carrier Korean Air headed for the Kubuqi desert in China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region in October  to carry out large-scale forestation.
Korean Air announced that it will plant 80,000 trees annually on 240,000 square meters of land in the Kubuqi desert during the next five years.
This year is the sixth consecutive year Korean Air is planting trees in the desert and signals the beginning of a second round of a program aimed at improving the environment of the area to curb further desertification.
"Korean Air has always attached great importance to development of the charitable programs for ecology issues. This is the duty of a corporate citizen to fulfill a social responsibility," said Chi Chang-hoon, president of Korean Air, who came to Inner Mongolia for this year's tree-planting.
The company also invited 55 students studying to be flight attendants from Inner Mongolia Normal University, as it has done in past years.
The Green Ecology Park program, which started in 2007, targets the Kubuqi desert, China's seventh-largest. The desert covers about more than 1 million hectares and is 400 kilometers in length. Being the closest desert to Beijing, it is regarded as the source of much of the city's spring dust invasions.
Due to excessive deforestation and rapid industrialization, soil erosion in the desert has long been a serious problem. It is estimated that the desert is expanding annually at a scale of five times the size of South Korea's capital, Seoul.
The desert affects the environment of neighbouring countries.
Chosun Ilbo, one of South Korea's major daily newspapers, once reported that the Kubuqi desert, which is more than 30 times the size of Seoul, was sending sandstorms to the Korean Peninsula every year. It said that many Korean companies were taking measures to tackle the problem.
From 2007 to 2011, Korean Air planted 1 million trees on a total of 3.18 million sq m of land to help prevent sandstorms and desertification in Northeast Asia.
"Korean Air will continue to carry out various forms of public environmental protection activities in order to repay the support and love of its Chinese passengers," said Chi.
The program is an important component of the South Korea-China Friendship Green Great Wall project, which is co-funded by the All-China Youth Federation and South Korea-China Future Forest, a non-governmental organization focused on forestation. The project aims to build up a 28 kilometers long forestation area measuring between three and eight kilometers wide.
The Kubuqi desert is not Korean Air's only target as it promotes eco-development. In November 2009, Korean Air gave out 5,000 eco-friendly bags to Beijing citizens to promote a greener lifestyle.
In July and October 2010, Korean Air sent its environment ambassadors dressed as Teddy Bears to Beijing Capital International Airport and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, distributing cards with environmental protection information on them to promote the concept of a low-carbon lifestyle.
From 2004, Korean Air has created 50,000 sq m of forest every year on the outskirts of Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia. It has also planted trees in Los Angeles, in the United States, annually since 2009.
Korean Air now owns 148 aircraft and is one of the 20 biggest airlines in the world. Like many other Korean companies, it is making an effort to promote forestation and eco-friendly lifestyles in countries challenged by desertification, a move that benefits both those countries and their neighbors.