“When grazing animals in the past, the yellow sand that came with the wind and mud flow brought by heavy rain trapped people with nowhere to hide. When the dust was heavy, even the yaks would not be willing to stay.” Sonam Norbu and his family have lived in Gyaidar Village, Gyaidar Township, Damshung, Lhasa for generations. His first time seeing a tree was when he went to Lhasa when he was about seven or eight years old. Since then, he has had a dream to plant trees.
In 2012, Sonam Norbu bought 2,000 saplings and started planting trees. But in the winter, only two trees survived. After inspecting them, he found that “the seedlings died before they grew due to lack of planting technology, inadequate daily care, and rampant prairie rats.”
For the next three to four years, Sonam Norbu still bought saplings in spring and planted trees. In 2015, he also borrowed more than 400,000 yuan (61,880 US dollars) to buy an excavator to build canals and dig pits, but the survival rate of trees was never satisfactory.
But Sonam Norbu never gave up. With the support of the Damshung County Forestry and Grass Bureau and from his family, finally in 2017, the survival rate of saplings reached more than 80 percent. What makes him more gratified is that the villagers have joined the ranks of protecting the ecological environment, and planting trees is no longer a matter of a single person.
Today, on a wasteland in the village, more than 20,000 Beijing poplars and spruce pine trees firmly grasp the desert land under their roots and sway with the wind. This is the “dream” that Sonam Norbu has realized after more than nine years.
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