One of best practices of compound management of agriculture and forestry: Led by the government and supported by national project funds, with the participation of the whole society, the farmland shelterbelt featuring "narrow shelter and small checkerboard” shall be established to realize the oasis shelterbelts.


Figure 1 People of the Hotan County in the southern margin of Xinjiang Tarim Basin were building forest belts; Photograph: Li Tipu


Figure 2 Women planted trees voluntarily in the Hotan County; Photograph: Zhu Yuwei

Hotan County is adjacent to the southern margin of Taklimakan Desert, featuring with drought, water shortage, and lack of vegetation, and is the most serious desertification area in Xinjiang and even China.

In 1978, with the implementation of the Three-North Shelterbelt Development Programme, Hotan region carried out large-scale construction of "narrow shelter and small checkerboard" shelter forest, based on the investment of national project funds; by the year of 1986, its farmland forest network had reached 99.1%; and it was the first region of Xinjiang that had realized farmland shelterbelts.

The county forestry bureau takes the township as a unit during the project implementation stage, and designs the shelterbelts based on the overall planning of the farmlands, forests, waters, roads, and residential points. Led by local government, the whole society is mobilized and called on to engage in unpaid labor and partly paid machinery contributions for the afforestation. After the afforestation, the farmers contracted woodlands tending, forest tending, thinning and harvesting and regeneration felling shall be under the unified management with the village as the unit. Regeneration felling must be reported to the County Forestry Bureau for examination and approval before the implementation.

After the farmland shelterbelts are established, Hotan oasis ecological environment conditions have been transformed into a virtuous circle from a vicious one, and the living standards and quality of life of farmers significantly improved, promoting the social and economic sustainable development.