As the World Changing reported, dust storms of the Gobi Desert blow off as much as 2,000 km2 (800 sq mi) of topsoil and occupy 3,600 km2 (1,400 sq mi) of grassland yearly. The storms have become increasingly severe each year. So China has been planting millions of trees to repel the desert since 1978.

Until the 1990s, sand storms were rampant in eastern China, drawing national and international attention. Hong Jiang from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa wrote in her study that China continues to promote tree planting as an ideal way to address not only desertification but also a wide range of ecological and economic issues on drylands.