APFNet’s contribution on fighting desertification in Horqin Sandy Land, Northern China
The terminal evaluation of the APFNet project “Demonstration Project of Vegetation Restoration and Management and Utilization of Forest Resources in Greater Central Asia (Chifeng sites) [2017P1-INM]” was held from 11 to 13 November 2019.  
The project site, located in the famous Horqin Sandy Land, Inner Mongolia, experiences extremely dry weather, desertification and low vegetation coverage which have impacted livelihoods, diminished species diversity and exacerbated dust storm occurrence over time. To promote forest restoration, combat desertification and improve ecological and economic benefits in the region, APFNet has supported the project since 2017. Strategies have included overviewing typical models for desertification prevention and control in Chifeng and providing theoretical bases and practical cases for the Greater Central Asia; conducting demonstrations on appropriate sandy land vegetation restoration and afforestation technical models; selection of economic species (such as Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica Litv., Populus alba var. pyramidalis, Prunus armeniaca, Prunus sibirica) suitable for the local conditions to improve forest stand quality and the multifunctional benefits of forests; and demonstration on economic and medicinal understorey species (Rhodiola rosea Linn., Glycyrrhiza uralensis, etc.) under tree species to diversify income sources.

Status of the land at the project site in the winter of 2017 (above) and the demonstration forest of Mongolian pine and Xinjiang poplar (below)
After three years of project implementation, the project has: (1) Completed a Research Report of Typical Models for Desertification Prevention and Control in Chifeng; (2) Established a 70-hectare demonstration forest for vegetation restoration in sandy area, including 30 hectares of demonstration forest with Mongolian pine (Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica Litv.) and Xinjiang poplar (Populus alba var. pyramidalis) and a 40-hectare demonstration forest with Mongolian pine and yellowhorn; (3) Established a 39-hectare demonstration base for economic forest in sandy areas, including 13 hectares of Prunus armeniaca grafting on wild apricot, tending of 18 hectares of original Prunus sibirica, implementing a high-yield technology on 8 hectares of Prunus armeniaca; (4) Established a 2.67-hectare demonstration base of economic understorey species using poplar and Mongolia pine. Around 500 forest practitioners have been involved in technical training related to desertification prevention and control, Prunus armeniaca grafting, insect control and

Field visit to the project site (top). Terminal evaluation meeting in Aohan Forestry and Grassland Administration (bottom). 
The review team rated project performance highly. Following the field visits and communication with the local authority, the review team suggested further strengthening the project summary and dissemination on the basis of the existing outputs. The review team also suggested to continue facilitating data collection for project impact monitoring and tracking and providing evidence-based demonstration to similar economies in Greater Central Asia.
A second phase of the project was recommended by the review team and there was discussion among stakeholders on the feasibility of a follow-up project and its framework.