Central Asia

Gansu

Once upon a time the Gansu Corridor at the fringe of the Gobi desert formed the western border of China and the eastern border of Central Asia. According to myth, the famous Great Wall ended here and the Silk Road leads through it. Nowadays a building called the last outpost of the Great Wall can be seen in Jiayuguan in the middle of the Gansu Corridor. The Great Wall has, though, never existed in the way we like to imagine. There have been many walls during different times, built by both Chinese and non-Chinese, but never one long wall.

A similar myth is the Silk Road, which originally was an abstract concept used by Baron F. von Richthofen in a lecture in 1877. He spoke about several routes followed by traders, which is a bit closer to reality. The routes also changed due to political, natural (mostly following the supply of water) and economic reasons. Solely in the Gansu Corridor there are several known and possibly many unknown roads in history.

Loplyk

Previously fishermen, the Turkic-speaking Loplyk at the Lop Lake in Xinjiang, Northwest China, survived on the scarce resources which the desert, rivers and lakes could provide. A summary of the article on Loplyk and their use of plants and animals can be found here.

Salination of deserts

Desertification of soil and salination of deserts are among the most serious environmental problems today. Desertification means an ultimate degradation of dry lands into a state from which they cannot be returned. Salination is the result of accumulation of free salts to an extent that causes degradation of vegetation and soils.

Both are processes that result from naturally high levels of salt in the environment, climatic changes and unsustainable human practices. In Central Asia many rivers and lakes are in an extremely poor state. Salt carried around by the wind affects the environment and health.

Himalaya

Himalaya is the largest and highest mountain system on our planet. It influences the lives of almost one billion people through its river systems.

Economic factors and the fight against poverty are important issues for Himalaya. In the short term, life improves for the inhabitants, but in the long term this erosion of biodiversity threatens the stability and sustainability of agriculture in the area. Soil degradation, deforestation, erosion and population growth affect the fragile ecosystems.