Yuli’s all-round forest ranger

It takes time and stamina to patrol this vast wooded territory, but for 46-year-old Ali Niaz managing Xinjiang’s wild poplars brings a satisfaction all of its own.

A clear lake, trees flanking the shore, a simple wooden boat, and a solitary man. This is the image of 46-year-old forest ranger Ali Niaz paddling a canoe made out of a hollowed poplar trunk along the Tarim River to check on the condition and growth of the wild poplars.

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Yuli county in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region lies between the central to lower reaches of the Tarim River and the northern edge of the Taklimakan Desert, and has around 12 million hectares of Populus euphratica (desert poplar) forests. Ali and his colleagues are responsible for the management of these forests, which cover an area measuring 520 kilometers long by 240 kilometers wide from north to south.

In 1993, when Ali graduated from secondary school he decided to become a ranger to help improve his hometown. Ali has been protecting this forest for the past 26 years.

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