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Restoring China's Loess Plateau

Restoring China's Loess Plateau

Home to more than 50 million people, the Loess Plateau in China’s Northwest takes its name from the dry powdery wind-blown soil. Centuries of overuse and overgrazing led to one of the highest erosion rates in the world and widespread poverty.

Two projects set out to restore China’s heavily degraded Loess Plateau through one of the world’s largest erosion control programs with the goal of returning this poor part of China to an area of sustainable agricultural production.
  land  water  terracing 
Water smart design and land use

Water smart design and land use

Plan for dry and survive drought with carefully designed and implemented rainwater catchment systems built directly into the landscape. Three core elements to mitigating the effects and impact of drought:
  1. Identify and intercept water flows to keep moisture on the landscape
  2. Improve soils ability to absorb and retain water
  3. Reduce the impact of hot, dry winds
Find out how simple land use patterns and strategic planting can achieve all these benefits and more.
  water  rain  land  farm  service 
Sector analysis for optimal land use

Sector analysis for optimal land use

One of the fundamental aspects to designing a sensible landscape for habitation and production is the consideration of the various external energies, forces and factors that can impact the site. These commonly include sunlight, wind, visibility, water flow, wildfire and wildlife.

Mapping the 'sectors' where these threats or energies originate you can help determine the placement of elements (plantings, buildings, earthworks) that benefit from or lessen the impact of these forces.

Most of these sectors are easy to identify with on the ground observation or inspection of detailed maps while seasonal sun angles are available for a known latitude.

Local conditions such as hills, valleys and large trees modify wind directions and intensity, cast shade and impact fire rick and behavior. These site specific characteristics may be evident to a well trained eye or can be learnt over an extended period of time spent on site or in discussion with previous occupants or neighbors.

Exclusion / Restrict flow
Generally it is desirable to exclude strong winds by planting fast growing shelter trees suitable for the site and of appropriate heights. This may be combines with fire 'proofing' by selecting naturally lass flammable species.
Roads and other thoroughfares are a source of noise, possible pollution and fire risk and the curious eyes of passers. For privacy and security reasons it may be advisable this with planting or construction.

Inclusion / Aid flow
Sunlight (solar energy) is essential for growth and can assist in many other processes or activities such as drying fruit or washing, heating water etc.
Allowing water to enter the site is usually valuable but too much can cause issues so having suitable drainage is essential.
Cold air naturally flows down slope but can 'pool' or get trapped behind dense plantings. If frosts are a problem, considering cold air flow may help improve growing conditions.