Open-air Laboratory


This Open-Air Laboratory tested solutions for drought and land degradatio and is located at the Hexi Corridor, in Northwest China. Between the 1960s and the 1990s, this watershed was a highly claimed territory that experienced extensive groundwater extractions.

Shiyang River Watershed (426.4 km2) the dry lands of northwest China.

In the OAL China, we aimed at exploring Nature-based Solutions for reducing water shortage and improving the resilience of plants to drought risk. The Shiyang River Watershed (SRW), located in the boundary between arid and semi-arid regions of north-western China, is one of the typical inland catchments in the arid land. SRW was in the danger of severe land degradation due to the rapid increasing of population and irrigated farmland in last century but also due to wrong water management. The area is dominated by irrigated crop land and degraded grassland with sparce grass.

Motivation for choice according to hazard exposure and asset value

 Aeolian desertification, dust storm, soil salinization, fresh water shortage, drought
 One of the vital oases and primary habitats for people in drylands of China
 National ecological protection key demonstration area
 Key research base for land degradation with long time data accumulation

Possible nature-based and hybrid solutions

 Restoring degraded land using environmentally friendly and sustainable biotechnology
 Developing water-saving agriculture with regional-suitable new technologies and innovation ideas
 Improving the agricultural industry structure, and cultivating salt tolerant and drought resistant crops
 Establishing a healthy operation of the water market and management

To learn more about OAL China please visit the interactive page with detailed information regarding the hazards they face and how NBS is providing solutions.

Our partners


Across the world, we are facing challenges like disaster risk everyday. Some of us are living in areas where disasters are very likely. Which challenges are you facing in your area? Flood, landslides, coastal erosion, drought, something else?



Drought-related risks are increasing worldwide due to climate change and demographic developments, leading to damage to infrastructure, disruption of tourism, difficulties in transportation and potential damage to agriculture crop and livestock.


Soil Erosion

Soil erosion is the denudation of the upper layer of soil. It is a form of soil degradation. This natural process is caused by the dynamic activity of erosive agents, such as water, snow, ice, air, plants, animals and humans.


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