Lessons from Loess: Undoing Ecological Damage

Lessons of the Loess Plateau (John D. Liu)

NEW YORK, December 2, 2008 – A film documenting an environmental rehabilitation project in Western China illustrates China's ability to restore some of its most devastated landscapes—and serves as a mode lfor all developing nations.

In a presentation and discussion at the Asia Society, ecological filmmaker John D. Liu illustrated through his film Lessons of the Loess Plateau how China's successes in rehabilitating large-scale damaged ecosystems in the Central China region, can serve as a blueprint for reversing human-induced environmental devastation in other countries, with strong emphasis on Northern Africa.

Liu's multimedia lecture outlined how the Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabilitation Project, led by the World Bank and a team of Chinese scientists from the Ministry of Water Resources in theearly 1990s, was able to transform the dry and mineral depleted region, restoring biodiversity and soil stability and increasing village incomes. The project created clear policies on land tenure, forbid free-range grazing of livestock, and planted an enormous number of trees.

"The Loess Plateau, a region that was once a pristine, nurturing ecosystem was ecologically devastated by human impact," said Liu.

Liu also noted the very similar degraded nature of the environments in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and stressed that these countries can learn from the lessons of the Loess Plateau. For him, combating climate change also occurs on the micro-level and an integral part of it involves reversing the human impacts on a community's immediate environmental surroundings.

Listen to the complete program (1 hr., 13 min.)