(Yicai Global) Jan. 25 -- After the jury for the Paulson Prize for Sustainable Cities arrived in China, Yicai Global took a close look at their shortlisted projects here to discover their tricks for ecosystem remediation and soil stabilization.
The Paulson Institute is a think tank former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson set up to solve dire economic and environmental problems in the US and China. The annual prize was launched in 2013 and aims to initiate pilot projects to boost sustainable urban development in China. The winner of this year's award will be announced in mid-March.
Inner Mongolia is an important environmental safety buffer in North China. However, the ecology there is fragile, with most of it situated in a transitional zone between the Mongolian and Loess Plateaus, which is also the transitional zone between forests and grasslands, and thus the ecotone between agriculture and animal husbandry. The environment there is varied and complicated.
To restore and protect the ecological system in arid and semi-arid areas in Inner Mongolia, Hesheng Inner Mongolia Ecological Silviculture Co. selected Helinge'er County -- which suffers from severe desertification -- to carry out their environmental remediation.
They set up green protective belts along gullies, planted dense shrubs, and arranged ecological interception/drainage ditches along the periphery of protective belts to stabilize the gullies' ecosystem and transform their ecology from a vicious cycle into a virtuous one.
The project was built per the international carbon sink standard and is also part of the forestry-based carbon sequestration project, with access to the carbon sequestration fund in accordance with the international Clean Development Mechanism standard. The entire forestry carbon sequestration project is expected to fix 220,000 tons of carbon dioxide over the next 30 years.
The project brings considerable investment and economic benefits to the local community.
Ren Libin, deputycounty chiefof Helinge'er County, told Yicai Global that the county was formerly a national-level indigent county that had difficulty enticing investment. The successful landing of the ecological demonstration project has now attracted much high-quality investment.
Zhao Quansheng, Hesheng's chairman and president, said the project has created jobs for more than 2,000 farmers in four townships, generating net income of USD49 million during the crediting period.
After organic fertilizer was applied to a citrus orchard in Pujiang County in southwest China's Sichuan province, the fruit looked better and tasted sweeter and more succulent, said Zhao Wubin, the deputy county chief. Now farmers enjoy soft fertile soil that has been scarce for many years, and earthworms have returned. The fertilizer Zhao referenced comes from food residue and animal waste.
This technology was invented by Yu Jiayi, the executive president and chief scientist of Beijing Goldenway Bio-Tech Co. She says the company makes efficient use of organic wastes such as leftover food, animal waste and straw to produce soil conditioner rich in organic content that remediates soil and improves its fertility.
This soil improvement technology not only raises organic content in soil by 0.6 point in only three years, but also allows decreased chemical fertilizer applications by 10 percent on an annualized basis without reducing yields.
In Yu's view, the nutrition of soil depends mainly on organic matter (i.e. carbon) since microorganisms -- which are the source of soil vitality -- can only survive in soil rich in organic matter.
This food-residue processing technology has been widely popularized for many years. Fourteen large-scale processing plants now transform food waste into resources in nine cities, including Beijing, Chengdu, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Urumqi. These plants can process 820,000 tons each year, with the production of bio-humic acid fertilizers -- produced from decaying biomass -- as high as 500,000 tons.
Forecasts hold that, by 2020, the above soil improvement technology will remediate 666,667 hectares of farmland and achieve annual carbon sequestration and mitigation of 18.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.