This story is unavailable.

Hi Natasha, thanks for the informative piece. Quick addition to the great China planting of 66 billion trees. They were overwhelmingly 3 fast-growing species — eucalypts, pine, and poplar. The attempt to push back the desert with tree plantings on former grasslands was an ecological mess. Deep-rooting, drought tolerant, indigenous grass species should have been restored. As your link to the 2014 Economist article notes, as does a more recent 2016 piece on Global Risk Insights [http://globalriskinsights.com/2016/02/chinas-growing-deserts-a-major-political-risk/] — “a billion poplar trees died from blight in 2000 — and the result is that only 15% of the trees planted since 1949 are still alive (and only 33% of those planted from 1970 onwards).” The poplar plantings became an excellent nursery and food source for Asian Longhorned beetles, which decimated the plantings. The Chinese, being entrepreneurial, turned the dead wood into packing crates, thus exporting the Asian Longhorned beetle and other China wood-looking insects to the U.S. and elsewhere. This has now caused a major invasive infestation, threatening the lost of 30% of urban forests. State foresters are concerned these boring insects could cause as much as $138 billion in forest economic losses.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Michael P Totten’s story.