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Shanghai's shoreline swiftly vanishing
( 2003-10-27 09:16) (China Daily)

Geological experts warn Shanghai is rapidly losing its waterfront and if efforts to protect beaches aren't made soon, the coastline along the Yangtze River will shrink to half its size in 20 years.

The city now has about 386 square kilometres of beachlands scattered mainly along Nanhui, Chongming, Hengsha Island, Jiuduansha outside Pudong Airport and Jinshan Island.

"The beaches cannot just be exploited by man's feet but must be preserved for nature. They are very important to balance the biological environment," said Liu Shouqi, secretary general of Shanghai Geological Society.

Liu's group has just finished a research project on the evolution and potential of beach resources in Shanghai suburb's, and has found disturbing evidence of potential erosion problems facing the area.

To the densely populated Shanghai, beaches are the only source available for the city to expand territorially.

According to Shanghai's general urban construction and land-use plans, by 2010, the city will reclaim more than 400 square kilometres of land from alluvial beaches.

However, as the sand carried down from the upper and middle reaches of the river decreases, there will be no new beaches formed and existing beaches likely to wash away.

Affected by construction at the massive Three Gorges dam project, the South-North water transfer project and forestation work in the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River, the sand content in the water is facing gradually reduction.

Liu said if the sand drops below 250 million tons a year, while sea level continues to rise, the city will lose 89 square kilometres of coastline annually within two decades.

"Instead of continually exploiting the coast, the government should protect the sand to preserve the remaining beaches," he said, "and adjust its land reclaiming plans to reduce the pressure upon the coasts."

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