Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Tuesday, June 17, 2003
China Suffers Great Losses from Desertification
Chinese experts estimate that desertification in the country is annually causing a direct loss of 64.2 billion yuan ( some 7.73 billion US dollars) with indirect economic losses of 288.9 billion yuan (34.8 billion US dollars).
Chinese experts estimate that desertification in the country is annually causing a direct loss of 64.2 billion yuan (some 7.73 billion US dollars) with indirect economic losses of 288.9 billion yuan (34.8 billion US dollars). Facing this serious environmental issue, the Chinese government has promised to hasten work on controlling and combating desertification.
The direct losses are mainly from the loss or decrease in soil productivity caused by wind and water erosion, being frozen-and-melted, and saline and alkaline soil, said Lu Qi, researcher with China Research and Development Center for Prevention and Control on Desertification.
The indirect losses came from suspension of communication and transportation, villages being buried, delay or canceling of flights and reduction in the life of irrigation works, which are heavily affected by desertification.
Investigations show that China has 2.62 million square kilometers of areas under desertification, double the total farmland in the country.
At present, one quarter of the land area and nearly 100 million people in the world are suffering from desertification to varying degrees. And the desert area is expanding by 50,000-70,000 square kilometers every year. China is one of the countries that suffers most, with nearly 25 percent land under desertification.
Niu Wenyuan, research fellow of Chinese Academy of Science, said that after comparing the desertification in China to that in the world, China's desertification is 7 to 10 percent higher than that of the world average.
Ma Fu, deputy director of China's State Forestry Bureau, said that in the past few years, China has implemented programs -- for instance, the six major afforestation projects, and Beijing-Tianjin sand-storm control project.
China's six major afforestation projects absorbed 25.58 billion yuan (US$3.08 billion) in funding last year, up 53.69 percent from 2001 figures, said a state statistical bulletin.
More than 22.952 billion yuan (US$2.76 billion) of the funding came from the central government, up 70.63 percent from the previous year, according to the statistical bulletin released by the State Forestry Administration in Beijing on Sunday.
Last year, good results were reported concerning afforestation in the six leading afforestation projects, including natural forest protection, the conversion of fragile land to forest and windbreak forest construction.
A total of 6.8 million hectares of land were afforested during the period, making up 87.15 percent of the country's total area designated for afforestation last year.