Xinhua Insight: China’s desertification reversed through constant efforts [Xinhua]

KUBUQI, Inner Mongolia, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) — After prolonged efforts, desertification in China has been initially reversed, with trees and grass springing up where deserts used to be.

“In the 1990s, the desertification area would increase nearly 3,500 square km every year. But after ten years of work, the situation has been overturned. About 1,500 square km of desert can be turned into greenery every year,” said Luo Bin, deputy director of the National Bureau to Combat Desertification under the State Forestry Administration, at the Kubuqi International Desert Forum, which is being held in the city of Ordos in north China’s Inner Monoglia Autonomous Region.

According to statistics released by the State Forestry Administration, China has 2.6 million square km of desert, accounting for 27 percent of the country’s total land area. The desert areas are scattered among 12 provincial-level regions in north China.

GOVERNMENT EFFORTS

In recent years, the central government has spent vast amounts of money to prevent desertification. In some areas, vegetation coverage has expanded by 20 percent over the last decade, said Zhao Shucong, director of the State Forestry Administration.

In 2002, the government promulgated the world’s first law concerning desertification prevention and control. But desertification efforts have been ongoing since the 1950s, including one program in which trees were planted in 13 provincial-level regions in north China to prevent desertification.

Such projects have played an important role in improving the environment and eliminating poverty.

“In its next step, China plans to have about 200,000 square km of desertified land, or half of the country’s desert area that can be reversed, harnessed by 2020 and improve living standards for people living in the desert,” Luo added.

However, the biggest challenge will be to prevent sandstorms from hitting the cities of Beijing and Tianjin, Luo said, adding that 56 billion yuan (9.1 billion U.S. dollars) has already been spent on this endeavor in the past ten years and 84.4 billion yuan more will be spent in coming ten years…

Excerpted; full article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/indepth/2013-08/03/c_132599494.htm

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