Desertification affects 400m Chinese

Updated: 2013-05-08 15:35

By Yang Yao (

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Some 400 million Chinese people's livelihoods are affected by desertification, which takes up 27.46 percent of the total land area, said a forestry official on Tuesday.

Sun Zhagen, deputy chief of the Chinese Forestry Administration, said that climate change, population increase and economic development are main reasons causing the land degradation, making China one of the countries most seriously affected by land degradation in the world.

This is a global issue. According to a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 20 percent of the farmland, 30 percent of the forest and 10 percent of the grassland are degrading worldwide, affecting a quarter of the whole population's livelihood.

In 2010, a grant of $8.92 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Asian Development Bank and the Chinese government was used to build an integrated ecological management (IEM) system to combat land degradation in West China.

According to Sun, the system now includes decision-making and a land degradation monitoring and evaluation system, covering six provinces in West China, halting or even reversing land degradation to a large extent.

Data provided by the State Forestry Administration show that an annual decrease of sandy land amounts to around 1,717 square kilometers. The current forested area in China is 196 million hectares, 20.36 percent of the total area, of which man-made forest takes up 61.68 million hectares, the highest in the world.

The partnership between the GEF and China started in 2002. Established in 1991, the GEF has 182 members. It makes grants and facilitates technology transfers to help developing countries tackle climate change, protect biodiversity and preserve water resources.

"A new model of public-private partnership has been used in the sustainable land management," said Jiang Zehui, deputy director of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference's committee of population, resources and environment. These new mechanisms will provide theoretical bases and intellectual support for government's decision-making, extensive involvement of enterprises and society as well as farmers and herders' participatory management, she added.

According to Jiang, the good practices have been promoted to African countries through the Forum On China-Africa Cooperation.

"The next step is to better improve ecological compensation and reduce the poverty gap," she added.