Chinese officials vow to continue battling desertification

China Plus Published: 2017-09-13 14:31:55
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Chinese forestry officials are suggesting they will try to strengthen cooperation with the international community to battle desertification.

The suggestion has been made at a high-level UN environment meeting taking place in the city of Ordos in Inner Mongolia.

Vice Premier Wang Yang delivered a speech as part of the sessions, saying the Chinese government will strive to combat desertification while improving people's livelihoods.

"China will fulfill its commitment and implement the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with green building a crucial part of the country's effort to combat desertification. China will ensure close communication and cooperation with the international community and strive to develop a path of desertification control with Chinese characteristics, which combines fighting desertification with improving people's livelihood."

It's estimated nearly one-fifth of China's land area is covered by desert.

To counter this, mass campaigns against desertification first began in the 1950s.

The 1970s saw the Chinese government launch several programs to combat the problem, including a vast tree-planting campaign to create forest windbreaks in 13 provinces in northern China, which has been dubbed the "Great Green Wall."

China joined the UN convention against desertification in 1994 and created the world's first law dedicated to sand control in 2001.

Over the past decade or so, China's desertified areas have been shrinking.

Official stats quoted by the China Daily suggest that over the past five years, the area of desert has actually decreased in China by more than 242-thousand hectares.

The government says its anti-desertification programs have also helped lift 30 million people abover the poverty line in a dozen of northern provinces and regions, including Inner Mongolia.

Liu Dongsheng is the deputy director of the State Forestry Administration.

"China's desertified land was expanding at a rate of 10,400 square kilometers per year at the end of the last century, but it is now shrinking by 2,424 square kilometers each year. China has set a goal to reforest 50 percent of the desertified land that can be treated by 2020, and the rest by 2050."

Ordos, host of the conference located on a vast prairie, has long been a victim of desertification.

The Kubuqi Desert and Maowusu sandy area account for nearly half of the land under its jurisdiction.

Over the past several decades, government-led tree planting, with participation from local businesses and residents, has successfully stopped the spread of these desert areas.

In 2016, the forest coverage in Ordos reached 27 percent, up 14 percent from 2000.

It's estimated the programs throughout in Kubuqi have also helped pull 100-0thousand local residents out of poverty.

UN Environment Program Executive Director Erik Solheim says Kubuqi, the seventh largest desert in China, is a good example of China's success in alleviating desertification.

"There's opportunity for solar energy, for new agriculture products like medicines, for eco-tourism in the desert, so many opportunities to provide development prospective and jobs by greening the desert "

Around 2-thousand delegates and over 20 international organizations are attending the two-week conference in Ordos.

For CRI, this is Guo Yan.

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