The Loess Plateau

China’s Loess Plateau,with a size of 640,000 square kilometers, is located in the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River. This area has been regarded as the cradle of Chinese civilization and the birthplace of the Han people. Now another legend has been created by a green movement on the Loess Plateau.  


In ancient times, the Loess Plateau area was highly fertile and easy to farm, which contributed to the development of early Chinese civilization. However, centuries of deforestation and over-grazing, exacerbated by China’s population increase, have resulted in degenerated ecosystems, desertification and poor local economies. For many decades this area has been “China’s Sorrow”.

In 1994, the World Bank has launched the Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabilitation Project,  in cooperation with the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources and the local people — an astounding transformation has occurred within just 10 years. Ecological improvements have shown tremendous promise, and local people’s income and quality of life have improved. One of the major focuses that was attempted during this project was to try to guide the local people to live in a more sustainable way, through introducing new knowledge and empowering them to work together with nature to rehabilitate their homeland. The successful start to the ambitious rehabilitation of the Loess Plateau has significant implications for other places on earth which suffer from large-scale environmental degradation as a result of human impact, and can serve as model for those regions. Rwanda government, inspired by China’s Loess Plateau restoration, launched the Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative in 2011.

Loess Plateau before and after the restoration project.

“To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower”
Here I see, a green revolution in the Loess Plateau —-  a self-healing of the earth a rehabilitation of humanity.

I have been deeply influenced by studying the Loess Plateau Project. Not only I developed the project into my current research, but also I got opportunities to be connected with those amazing people who share the deep love to the nature and people. A special thanks to Nina Witoszek , Pål Magnus Lykkja, and the members of Arne Næss Project.

I had an interview with John D. Liu and Polly Higgins at the end of November, 2013. The interview was taken place In the Arne Næss Room at the Department of Environment and Development, Oslo University. Polly and me had a skype meeting together with John. He was in Beijing at that moment for editing his films. Both of them presented their deep insights into China’s Loess Plateau restoration and shared their deep enquiry about life, nature and people. Thanks to John and Polly for their strong support on this case study.

Ariel Lin King of Lan Ling
John D. Liu

John D. Liu , environmental Film-maker, founder of The Environmental Education Media Project  and What If We Change was involved in the massive China’s Loess Plateau restoration project.  now turns his eyes towards Rwanda Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative. He has traveled 77 countries and seen different people in different land. With special talents and knowledge, he has made many films to tell the stories about people and environment. His films have educated many people around the world, including me. That’s where I started to explore the Loess Plateau by watching his films: The Lessons of the Loess Plateau , Rwanda Forests of HopeHope in a Changing Climate.

During the interview, John talked about his current work on a TV Reality Show, his previous film of the Lessons of the Loess Plateau and his recent work on Rwanda Forest Restoration Initiative which was inspired by the previous Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabilitation Project:

John D Liu Loess Plateau
John D. Liu about Rwanda
John D. Liu recent work

Polly Higgins, with a deep love to the earth, started a journey to promote  Eradication Ecocide and  Wish20.  “First do not harm, from that principle we can create maximum freedom for all from a place of care, love and trust.”

I met Polly this summer at SUM, University Oslo. With an inquiry of “what makes the heart sing”, Polly shared with us her visions: in harmony with naturewell-being for all beings.  She is a person with a brave heart and beautiful mind. With her encouragement, I am “daring to be great”.

Polly Higgins

In the interview, Polly  shared her understanding of the Loess Plateau in relations with ecocide and ecosophy. 

Polly Higgins – Loess Plateau
Loess Plateau Deforestation & Desertification

Various links:

 Finding Sustainability

New Agriculture    Scaling up in Agriculture

The Ascent of Humanity   Panenthea

     Permaculture       Land for Life

     Climate change       Wilderness

Fighting Poverty   Rwanda 

             Ecological advancement 

    A filmmaker’s take on

            The Loess    Tibetan Water