A project inserting terraces and drainage has boosted production where soil has been severely eroded along the flood-prone Yangtze River, offering a possible solution to the bigger problem of China's Three Gorges.
Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
Jun Tianba, China
As Chinese officials set about trying to repair the environmental damage that the Three Gorges Dam has caused around the reservoir's edge, a simple but effective project just downstream could model a solution to the mammoth problem.
By merely building sturdy terraces and digging well-placed drainage channels and ponds, hydraulic engineers have radically reduced soil erosion and water loss in this village and others like it, boosting farmers' crops and helping them make more money.
"My corn did not grow so well when my land sloped," recalls Liu Gang, surveying his newly built terraces, green with leafy cornstalks. "Now [since the terraces] I harvest almost half again as much as I used to."
The farm terraces and ponds that dot Yiling County, where the Three Gorges Dam is located, are part of an effort funded by the World Bank, the European Union, and the Chinese government stretching up and down the Yangtze River to better manage its watershed.