Northwest China's Gansu province will cooperate with Saudi Arabia on afforestation missions and help it combat desertification, according to the provincial foreign affairs office.
Competent scientific research institutes, universities and enterprises in Gansu will participate in Saudi Arabia's "Green Middle East "international cooperation, the office said. They will spread China's green development concept and promote the Belt and Road Initiative.
In May, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture held the first International Green Technology Forum and Exhibition in Riyadh. Scientists from Northwest China shared techniques to prevent desertification, manage water resources and restore vegetation.
At the forum, the Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources of the Chinese Academy of Sciences highlighted China's experience and achievements in sand control.
Qu Jianjun and Liu Benli, researchers from the institute, explained how wind speed and air density changed on a plateau and why conventional sand control measures — adopted in landlocked areas — did not work in coastal regions.
According to the presentation made by the researchers, sand can pose a serious threat in coastal areas, "given the complex interaction between wind and waves". Sandstorms can quickly damage buildings and other civilian structures, it said.
Members of the team shared their experiences in wide application of the straw checkerboard technique to prevent sand dunes from being buffeted by strong winds.
The technique uses dried stems of wheat, reeds and other plants to form a checkerboard design. Half of each stem is buried and the other half lies exposed. This straw grid acts as a windbreak.
However, these wind barriers become weak over time, so alternative materials such as clay, nylon, fibers and metals are being experimented with, the researchers said.
The environment institute is among the earliest centers in China to combat desertification. In 1988, its sand control measures on the edge of the Tengger Desert at Shapotou in Zhongwei, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, won the National Science and Technology Progress Award.
The straw checkerboard method was used to prevent sand from burying railway tracks between Baotou, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, and Lanzhou, Gansu.