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As recently as thirty years ago, the Horqin region of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China was covered in verdant grasslands. Now the area is facing severe desertification. The major cause is believed to be the loss of grassland due to cultivation and grazing. The Second Hitachi Group Volunteer Experience Tour to the Horqin Desert Greening Project in China was organized so that this "man-made desert" can be restored to its original state of green grassland by human action.
Following on from the first tour in 2007, the second tour was arranged in cooperation with G-Net, an NPO (non-profit organization), and ran from the 11th to the 16th of September 2008. The trip provided Hitachi Group staff from Japan and China with the opportunity to experience tree planting, pruning, and other remedial activities for restoring vegetation in the Horqin desert which is one of the sources of the "yellow sand" dust that is blown over Japan.
|Date||September 11 to 16, 2008|
|Location||Around the Horqin Left Back Banner in Tongliao in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China|
|Organizer||G-Net, an NPO (non-profit organization)|
|Activities||Planting and irrigation of 1,300 pine seedlings, pruning of poplar trees, pruning of Hitachi Construction Machinery forest poplar trees|
|Staff||Haruhiko Saito (Representative Director of G-Net)
Yoshio Kitaura (Executive Director of G-Net)
Takashi Otaki (Manager of local G-Net office)
and other local staff
Corporate Citizenship Group,
CSR Promotion Department,
Corporate Communication Division,
By participating in the desert greening volunteer project, this program aimed to help foster a volunteer mindset while also providing an opportunity to consider what individual Hitachi group staff could do towards protecting the natural environment and ecosystems and to translate this into real action. Through their participation in this activity, I hope that everyone involved was able to stand in the desert and think about "what can I do, here and now?" and "what should I be doing from now on?", and to find answers to those questions.
Horqin Desert is the closest desert to Japan. In a straight line, it is approximately 1,500km away. A direct flight from Narita in Japan to the closest airport takes about three hours. This is followed by a rough drive by car to Inner Mongolia which takes about another three hours.
The broad region around Horqin Left Back Banner in Tongliao is the Horqin Desert. It has an area of about 50,000 km2, making it larger than Kyushu. The desert sands are picked up by the prevailing westerly winds that are particularly strong in early spring and carried over the sea to Japan where they are know as "yellow sand".