China may need 300 years to beat desertification

January 5, 2011
A file picture shows a woman on her onion farm on the edge of the desert that threatens to engulf it in China's northwest Gansu province. Living on the route of the historic Silk Road, she is on the front lines of a national struggle against desertification, a problem that could take 300 years to reverse, according to state media. About 27 percent of China's mass land is considered desertified

Huge population pressures, scarce rainfall and climate change have made China the world's biggest victim of desertification, a problem that could take 300 years to reverse, 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 land, 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, but the process will take 300 years at the current rate of reversing by 1,700 square kilometres annually, it said.

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

Explore further: China reports shrinking deserts

Related Stories

Snow havoc decimating Chinese forests

February 10, 2008

Nearly 67,000 square miles of forest land in China have been decimated by the worst snow storms endured by the country in the last five decades.

Sandstorms blanket Beijing in yellow dust

March 20, 2010

Beijingers woke up Saturday to find the Chinese capital blanketed in yellow dust, as a sandstorm caused by a severe drought in the north and in Mongolia swept into the city.

Giant green algae slick heads towards China

June 22, 2010

A massive floating expanse of green algae is heading towards China's east coast, potentially threatening wildlife and the region's tourist industry, state media reported on Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Ice sheets may be more resilient than thought

September 3, 2015

Sea level rise poses one of the biggest threats to human systems in a globally warming world, potentially causing trillions of dollars' worth of damages to flooded cities around the world. As surface temperatures rise, ice ...

Climate ups odds of 'grey swan' superstorms

August 31, 2015

Climate change will boost the odds up to 14-fold for extremely rare, hard-to-predict tropical cyclones for parts of Australia, the United States and Dubai by 2100, researchers said Monday.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dirk_bruere
not rated yet Jan 05, 2011
Reversing desert at 1700 sq km per year is not a trivial accomplishment
RobertKarlStonjek
1 / 5 (1) Jan 06, 2011
Make bricks ~ you can never have too many bricks. . . maybe time to build a great west wall from sandstone bricks?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.