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CLIMATE SCIENCE
China says faces tough fight against desertification

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Jan 5, 2011
Population pressure, drought and climate change have made China the world's biggest victim of desertification and it could take 300 years to reclaim just one-fifth of desert land, state media said Wednesday.

Overgrazing, excessive land reclamation and inappropriate water use also make it especially difficult to halt deserts from encroaching on large areas of land in the nation's arid north and west, the China Daily reported.

"China is still a country with the largest area of desertified land in the world," Zhu Lieke, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration, was quoted as saying.

About 27 percent of China's total land mass, or about 2.6 million square kilometres (1.04 million square miles), are considered desertified, while another 18 percent of the nation's land is eroded by sand, the report said.

Experts believe that 530,000 square kilometres of the nation's deserts can be returned to green land, the paper quoted the director of the national bureau to combat desertification, Liu Tuo, as saying.

But the process will take 300 years at the current rate of reversing desertification by about 1,700 square kilometres annually, Liu said.

Some of the worst land erosion in the world occurs in the basin of the Yellow River, China's second-largest river, with 62 percent of the area affected by water and soil erosion, the paper said in a separate report.

The problem is a key concern of China's government, which fears for its future ability to feed its huge population, with arable land dwindling due to desertification and rampant real estate development.



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