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China's Great Green Wall

January 2015

The Problem of Desertification in China

China's great green wall

The Problem of Desertification in China

Northern China has a long history of being dry. The Himalayas which run through the mid-west of the country create a rain shadow over the country’s northern border with Mongolia, which prevents rainfall reaching the region and annual precipitation figures of 100 to 250mm compared to around 1500mm for mainland China. The result is the Taklamakan and Gobi deserts which have a combined size of over 1.6 million km2.

These deserts are rapidly expanding. Around 3600km2 of China’s grassland is lost to the Gobi desert every year as well as 2000km2 of top soil. Not only does this make agriculture in these regions very challenging but this desertification has the effect of sweeping dust across the country and into the east coast cities. This dust, alongside industrial pollution, has been blamed for creating dangerously high levels of air pollution at in Beijing, as it can trap particulates at ground level.


AQA A Level

The effect of wind (in hot desert environments) – erosion: deflation and abrasion; transportation; suspension, saltation, surface creep; deposition.

Desertification: distribution of areas at risk, physical and human causes, impact on land, ecosystem and populations.

Managing hot desert environments and their margins – to consider and evaluate the strategies adopted with regard to land use and agriculture

Edexcel A Level
Desertification and its scale and impact.

Developing an awareness that desertification is a type of land degradation and investigating the varying human activities and climatic variations causing it.

OCR A Level
The ways in which the development of hot arid / semi-arid environments presents social, economic and environmental challenges

WJEC A Level
Strategies that attempt to conserve the desert environment; alleviate the impacts human activity; control the use of the desert environment

The role of local, national and international groups in the management of the desert environment.

The economic, social, political and environmental impacts of deforestation.

Management of a desert area to ensure sustainability and challenges faced.

Explain the idea of the spreading desert.

Study an example of an area on the fringe of a hot desert, which is at risk from desertification.

Describe strategies and methods used to reduce the risk of desertification in countries with a low level of economic development.

Edexcel B GCSE
Investigate the adaptations people make in extreme environments, including farming methods, building styles, clothing, transport, energy use.

Investigate the threats to people and natural systems in extreme environments, including out-migration because of limited economic opportunities, cultural dilution through tourism, pollution though resource exploitation and land degradation through poor land management.

Assess a range of local actions, e.g. intermediate technology and adaptation to changing climates, and assess their effectiveness in achieving a sustainable future for local communities.

Edexcel iGCSE
Consequences (reduced agricultural output; malnutrition; famine; refugees) and management of soil erosion.

Challenges of accessibility and transport, water supplies, extreme temperatures, drought, famine and desertification and how they are managed.

The different ways that challenges of hot deserts are managed including a named example from a specific hot desert.

The appreciation that different viewpoints, values and attitudes are held on the process of desertification by different stakeholders.

Both local community and international strategies to manage the situation.

A case study of an area suffering from desertification: causes, effects and management.

In the Members' Area:

  • The Great Green Wall
  • How successful has it been?
  • Criticism of the programme

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