The Grain for Green Project (GGP) encompasses most desertification areas in northern China where fragile soils are susceptible to erosion given the arid and semi-arid climate, low vegetation cover, and strong winds. We collected relevant data through ecological surveys and literature review to quantify total sand fixation and dust retention in 2015 based on different restoration methods, forest types, ecological function zones, and key desertification areas. Our results showed that cropland and wasteland afforestation increased sand fixation and dust retention, whereas facilitate afforestation was less effective in doing so. Further, sand fixation and dust retention values were higher in ecological and shrub forests compared with economic forests, as well as in wind erosion zones compared with wind-water erosion and water erosion zones. Moreover, 43.28% and 44.75% of total sand fixation and dust retention, respectively, were concentrated in important windbreak and sand fixation areas. Similarly, 60% and 30% of total sand fixation and dust retention, respectively, occurred in sandstorm paths and sources. Lastly, policy factors primarily influenced the spatial distribution patterns of both sand fixation and dust retention. Based on these results, enhancement of GGP efficacy into the future will rely on increased restoration efforts specifically aimed at planting more drought-resistant shrubs and native vegetation as doing so will enhance sand fixation, dust retention, and thus, the ecological integrity of these valuable and fragile desert ecosystems in northern China.
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