Last Updated on January 11, 2023
A 57-year old woman from China named Yin Yuzhen has succeeded in the remarkable task of creating a thriving ecological park in one of the country’s four major deserts, the Mu Us Desert in Inner Mongolia.
Over the span of 35 years, Yin has successfully planted over 300.000 native plants and trees in an arid land of over 42 square kilometers (10 thousand acres), effectively overcoming desertification and creating a green oasis suitable for farming.
Yin’s Extraordinary Story
Born in 1965 in Jingbian County, Yin Yuzhen ended up having to move to the Mu Us Desert, one of the most inhospitable areas of Inner Mongolia, when her father arranged for her to marry her now husband Bai Wanxiang. She was 19 at the time.
Living in precarious conditions in a desolate land with nothing but sand around her, and not being able to meet anyone but her husband, Yin had a very difficult time adjusting to her new circumstances.
On occasions, she contemplated suicide and expressed to her husband the desire to leave, but Bai would beg her to stay, telling her he would not survive alone in the desert.
Eventually, Yin decided to take things into her own hands: she embarked on a desert greening quest to improve her own environment and living conditions, stating: “I would rather die of fatigue from fighting the sand than be bullied by the sand and wind.”
Desert Afforestation Efforts
Yin’s efforts were not always successful. In the very beginning, she sold her family’s livestock and purchased 600 tree saplings to plant around her house, but only twelve survived the harsh desert conditions.
Over the years, she has worked tirelessly with the help of her husband and experimented with different sowing and growing techniques, and prioritized those species of trees that are better adapted to the desert, until she mastered her desert reforestation skills, increasing the survival rate from 1% up to 70%.
As a result of her success story, today Yin has received full government support and over 80 awards for her efforts, and her methods are being used in larger afforestation projects around the country. Not only that, but she inspired and motivated many other pesants and herdsmen to follow her steps.
Yin Yuzhen has been picked as one of the ten most powerful women in China — twice. She was a torchbearer at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
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