Lessons of the Loess Plateau 黄土高坡的教训

In Northwest China’s Loess Plateau, an area roughly the size of France and the birthplace of Chinese civilization, agriculture and grazing practices over thousands of years have transformed the once lush forests into a dry and degraded ecosystem. As the yellow loess soil eroded, the silt raised the riverbed, causing seasonal flooding by the Yellow River. This, in turn, is bringing drought and famine. The Yellow River, also known as “China’s Sorrow” has flooded more than 1,500 times.

In 1995, The World Bank and the Chinese government began the “Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabilitation Project”-its largest development project to date. It ambitiously set out to restore what was destroyed over 10,000 years. Working with Chinese planners from the Ministry of Water Resources, international planners from the World Bank managed, over a span of 10 years, to reshape the hydrology, soil dynamics, forestry, agriculture practices, and economic viability of the land. Radically restructuring local land use practices and engaging villagers to participate, the Project resulted in vast ecological improvements and new economic opportunities for the locals. “The Lessons of the Loess Plateau” is a hopeful representation of how to protect our natural systems, even those previously thought impossible to save.

This video is a trimmed-down version of an hour-long film by John D. Liu (see contact information with the Environmental Education Media Project). Re-edited by Ariane Wu.

Originally produced by John D. Liu

Originally published on April 22, 2009

10 Responses to “Lessons of the Loess Plateau 黄土高坡的教训”

  1. Lynn Suh Says:

    WOW!!!!!!!!!! This is very good!!!!! I am doing a project on Plateau and this sure will help! I am form Korea and I live in China, but I think I am almost American because I started to go to english school since kindergarden and in China I am going to a place callded Dalian American International School!(DAIS for short)

  2. ZJ Says:


  3. Sebastian Says:

    Amazing Film on the real issues of our time. Highly recommended.

  4. Annika Titsworth Says:

    Nice website , how can i join your email list ?

  5. Yvette Says:

    I am absolutely astounded by the change that can take place in just 10 short years! If there is will both on a political level and at a personal level then surely we can turn the tide with respect to saving our environment.

  6. Hannah Says:

    what do the loess plateau ppl eat?

  7. Maskil Says:

    @Chao Shang, you can find the full-length version of the documentary here (among other places):
    Environmental Education Media Project – The Lessons of the Loess Plateau

  8. Zi Tengyang Says:

    This video shows that the government is very important in land rehabilitation

  9. Chao Shang Says:

    The article and video present exactly what I want to know. I am a soil scientist and very interested in land rehabilitation in the area. How can I obtain the full hour long film? and also information regarding what people can do with the rehabilitation project, what has be done and what are the factors to overcome? Thanks.

  10. Muhammad Nawaz Says:

    It is an excellent example of how a government policy was implemented with local community participation. There is much food for thought for politicians, planners and managers around the world and a lesson to learn that how a sincere committment could transform the lives of impoverished people.

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