Young forest ranger protects ecological barriers in Xinjiang desert for 10 years
(ECNS) -- A 100 to 400-meter-wide, 84-kilometer-long artificial eco-forest in the northern Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has the proud name of "359" eco-forest.
Xia Wanlin, a post-90s forest ranger from the 11th regiment at the first Division of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, has been stationed here for 10 years since he was 17.
"When I first started working, the saplings had just been planted here. We had to replant for three or four years in a row to achieve the scale we have today," Xia said.
"Now, this place has become a home for various sand-loving plants such aspoplars, jujube, elm, mulberry, white wax, flower stick, licorice, wild hemp, and bitter beans," he added.
Xia manages over 10,000 acres of forest land, which is extremely harsh and remote.
For the past 10 years, there has been almost no place where his footsteps could not reach, whether it was the bumpy dirt roads on the edge of the desert or the overgrown weeds deep in the forest.
"We have to patrol about 14 kilometers every day, both driving and walking, mainly to check for any forest fires, illegal logging, and hunting," Xia said.
"Sometimes we encounter some problems. Just the other day, my car got stuck in the sandy terrain and almost couldn't get out," he said.
In 2022, Xia has patrolled over 5000 kilometers in total. Thanks to his and his colleagues' efforts, the ecological environment of the forest has been improving, attracting many wild animals such as Tibetan antelopes, wild rabbits, pheasants, wild boars, and hedgehogs to settle in the protected area.
"Better protecting every blade of grass and tree here and making this protective forest grow better is our contributions to hometown and the country," he said.
Up to now, the 11th regiment has planted a total of 354 kilometers of forests, covering an area of 6,500 acres, and planted 324,800 trees. In 2022, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps completed the afforestation of 441,500 acres, grassland improvement of 484,000 acres, and control of desertified land of 623,800 acres.