The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US$197 million loan to enhance ecological resilience and diversification of rural livelihoods in the Silk Road region of China.
Environmental degradation and weak ecological resilience, the ADB says, are key concerns in Shaanxi, Gansu, and Qinghai provinces in the Silk Road region of northwestern China. The region has complex eco-environment systems that are water scarce, have highly erodible low-quality soils, and poor-quality forestry and vegetation cover, which are exacerbated by climate-change impacts.
The total cost of the project, expected to be completed in 2029, is US$327.23 million, with US$130.23 million counterpart financing from the government.
“Forest and wetland degradation is a critical ecological and environmental problem in these provinces,” notes Au Shion Yee, the bank’s senior water resources specialist for East Asia. “The project is among the first in northwest China to adopt the close-to-nature forestry approach as part of climate-resilient forestry planning and management.”
All activities under the project will apply a close-to-nature forestry management approach, which treats forests as important public goods to support ecological systems in performing multiple functions.
The project will support environmental protection through institutional strengthening and ecological restoration of fragile landscapes. Other activities include the construction of supporting facilities such as canals, bridges, water control mechanisms, and patrol stations.
A trans-provincial coordination mechanism will be established to strengthen institutional arrangements between municipal, city, district and county forestry and grassland bureaus for environment and ecosystem protection. A community forest management approach will be pilot tested to engage local communities as custodians of local areas in the planning, operation and maintenance of forests and wetlands.