Sanbei Shelter Forest Project, a man-made windbreaking forest strip designed by China to hold back the expansion of the Gobi Desert, is able to absorb and eliminate sulfur dioxide, nitric oxide and Fine Particle (PM2.5), according to a recent study by Lanzhou University. The study is the first of its kind in China.
Ma Jianmin, a professor at the College of Earth Environmental Studies (CEES) under Lanzhou University, said that the forest strips absorbed and eliminated 1.1 million tons of sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide between 1982 and 2010, 50 percent of which was accomplished by the forest in northern China.
"The sheltering forest is of great significance to the improvement of air quality in northern China," the professor remarked. Meanwhile, Ma said that the project eliminated 30 million tons of PM 2.5 between 1999 and 2010, accounting for 0.9 percent of the total amount.
"With the protection of the forest strips, resistance to benzopyrene, a major toxic substance in PM 2.5, in northwestern, northeastern and northern China have been reduced by half," noted Huang Taobo, a doctor from CEES.
The study also suggested a lower contamination level in the forest than outside it. Experts have predicted that the project's ability to absorb and eliminate organic pollutants will continue increasing. By the year 2050, 1.9 times more polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon will be eliminated compared with in 1990, scholars predicted.