BEIJING, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- China has seen reduced desertification and increased forest coverage since 1978, thanks to the Three-North Afforestation Program (TNAP), said a report released Monday.
Constructed in the northeast, north and northwest China, TNAP is a national program fighting against soil erosion and wind-sand damage by planting sand-fixing forests.
The area of sand-fixing forests has increased by 154 percent in the past 40 years, contributing to the reduction of desertification by around 15 percent, according to a report jointly released by the National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Over the past 40 years, TNAP increased the forest area by 30.14 million hectares and raised the forest coverage rate from 5.05 percent to 13.57 percent in the regions it covers, said Liu Dongsheng, deputy head of the NFGA.
"China's desertification area has significantly declined since 2000 due to the construction of the Three-North afforestation and people's increasing awareness of environmental protection," said Zhu Jiaojun, head of the Institute of Applied Ecology in the northeastern city of Shenyang.
The program also played a role in preventing sandstorms in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.
Three-North protective forests helped reduce sandstorms by fixing the sources of sand on the ground, Zhu said.
Official data showed the time of sandstorms per year dropped from 5.1 days in 1978 to 0.1 days in 2015.