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Special Session of the General Assembly to Review and Appraise
the Implementation of Agenda 21

New York, 23-27 June 1997


Desert Reclamation using Shelterbelts
Location Thal Desert, Punjab, Pakistan
Responsible organization(s) UNEP
Description The Thal area is tropical sandy desert spread over 2 million hectares (ha) and more than 90% of the area consists of varying depths of sand. Winds are characteristics of the Thal desert which continue to blow in different directions throughout the year. This land led to creation of sand dunes of various size throughout the area. Indiscriminate grazing of livestock and ruthless cutting of trees and shrubs has further accentuated the situation. Even roads and civil structures were under danger. Tree planting across the wind direction as shelterbelts was initiated by a PARC sponsored project in the area. Tamarix aphyila proved to be a very successful species for this purpose. Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Zisyphus mauritiana and Acacia hilotica were also used for this purpose. Now these windbreaks can be seen in vast area of the Thal desert. Fifty villages are involved in the project area.
Issues addressed Land degradation.
Objectives Desert reclamation.
Results achieved About 20,000 ha have been reclaimed and are now arable. All crops including wheat, pluses and even vegetables are being grown in the area. Also intensity of the sand storms has decreased. Reclamation made the area suitable for crop cultivation, production of timber and fuelwood enhancing farmer income dramatically.
Lessons learned The tree species used as shelterbelts well adopted to the area, being resistant to drought, grazing and mechanical injury of sand (especially Tamarix aphylla). The farmers were inspired by great success of these species and they accepted this technology for wider adoption.
Financing Government of Pakistan, Local Farmers.
Contact UNEP, Dryland Ecosystems and Desertification Control Programme Activity Centre
P.o.Box 30552 Nairobi, Kenya
Tel (254 2) 623285
Fax (254 2) 623284 E-mail:

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1 November 1997