First appeared in

Asian Development Bank

100 Climate Actions from Cities in Asia and the Pacific


The capital of Qinghai Province in western China has initiated an afforestation and reforestation project on the Tibetan Plateau on a huge scale.

Over a two-year period from 2016–2018, the Chinese city of Xining introduced more than 39,000 hectares of forest within the city and in neighboring counties — an area larger than Las Vegas. In the high-altitude and semi-arid region of the PRC, this is no small challenge. By focusing efforts on barren and degraded grasslands, the project expects to see greater levels of carbon sequestration while also improving the local environment and economy.

The degradation of land in Qinghai Province is expected to be further exacerbated by climate change, with temperatures increasing three times faster on the Tibetan Plateau than the global average.



Xining is the largest city on the Tibetan Plateau and has an average elevation of 2,200 meters above sea level. Although it is more challenging and expensive to conduct afforestation efforts in higher altitudes, the project was able to select tree varieties more suited to the local climate, and organised training sessions for local farmers to spread knowledge of effective seed cultivation and forest management techniques.

The project will increase carbon sequestration and support the sustainable development of the local economy (photo by Xu Shouxiang).

The Challenge

Xining suffers from extremely poor air quality, soil degradation due to pressure from livestock, and vulnerability to harsh weather events.


Economic During the project implementation 35,000 jobs were created for land preparation and planting, and 150 long-term forest management jobs were established.

Health Since trees can act as air filters by removing particulates that cause respiratory diseases, the afforestation project will improve the health of residents.

Environment By increasing the forest cover, the project will enhance carbon sequestration, increase biodiversity, prevent erosion, and improve water conservation.