10/26/2006, 00.00
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"Green Wall" to stop Gobi desert in Mongolia

The government plans to build a 3km long barrier to block desertification and pollution caused by sandstorms.

Ulan Bator (AsiaNews) – A 3km long "wall" made of pines, willows, junipers, thorn bushes and other trees, to cross the desert along the border with China. This is a planned project by Mongolia that, according to the Wall Street Journal, should cost at least 150 million dollars and be completed within 30 years or so.

The "Green Wall" project evokes memories of the Great Wall built by the Chinese to keep the Mongols out. This wall, however, is intended to stop the growing desertification affecting Mongolia. With the "Green Wall", Ulan Bator aims to "protect itself and the whole world from an extremely serious problem: the sand of Gobi desert, gathered by storms of central Asia and transported towards the east", with consequences alerted in China and Korea. Traces of the desert sand have been found in Kansas too.

For neighbouring countries, however, the clouds of sand of Gobi desert mean respiratory illnesses and darkened skies, sometimes to the extent that airports must be shut down.

What the desertification problem means for Mongolia is 140,000km of unusable territory, 683 streams that have dried up in recent years and a 10% reduction in cliffs compared to 1940.

Thus, the "Green Wall" has become an urgent need for Mongolians: already 360,000 trees have been planted in the past two years.

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