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National plan aims to push back desertification

By LI HONGYANG | China Daily | Updated: 2023-01-20 09:14
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Aerial photo taken on Sept 14, 2020 shows a view of Kubuqi Desert in Dalad Banner of Ordos, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region. [Photo/Xinhua]

With more than a quarter of its surface area covered by desert, desertification is a major issue for China, and the National Desertification Prevention and Control Plan, recently approved by the State Council, aims to do more to address the issue.

According to the plan, 6.7 million hectares of land affected by desertification will have been treated by 2025. By 2030, that figure is projected to reach 12.4 million hectares.

The plan has identified seven key areas where spreading deserts need to be pushed back, including the mountains of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the areas around the Kubuqi Desert in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and the Mu Us Desert in Shaanxi province.

In order to tackle desertification, the process through which once-fertile land turns into desert, the plan calls for recourse to science and technology to address the issue at its root, and for farmers and herdsmen to get involved in green means of utilizing light, heat, wind and remediating soil to improve their incomes.

This is the third desertification prevention and control plan approved by the State Council, China's Cabinet, since 2002.

The current plan includes adjustments to ideas and general methods of desertification reversal and control, derived from the experience and results of previous plans, according to the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

The latest national survey shows that areas suffering from desertification fell by 3.8 million hectares to 257 million hectares between 2014 and 2019. As a result, sand and dust storms have reduced to an average of 8.5 events from an average of 12.5 previously, the administration said.

Sun Guoji, head of the administration's desertification control department, told a news conference recently that the tasks ahead are more challenging than those that came before.

"Our challenges are regional water shortages, damage from human activity and climate change. In addition, maintaining the achievements we've already made while tackling new ones is an arduous and urgent task," he said.

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