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Environmental Protection China's desertification area shrinks

January 31, 2008

Xinhua News Agency
28 January 2008

BEIJING -- China's desertification acreage had shrunk by 37,900 square
kilometers from 2000 to 2004, said a senior official with the State
Forestry Administration (SFA) on Jan.24.

Zhu Lieke, deputy director of the SFA, said about 20 percent of
desertification areas in the country had so far been improved, an
increase of 20 percentage points.

China had a desertification acreage of 2.6 million square kilometers
with 400 million people affected, said Liu Tuo, head of the
desertification prevention and treatment department under the SFA.

The SFA's deputy director also said nearly 320,000 sq km of land were
exposed to high risks of erosion.

He said the government had made great efforts to convert the deserts
into forestry and pasture and fund other projects to restore healthy
forest ecosystems.

In the latest effort, the country said it would invest 1.567 billion
yuan (214.7 million U.S. dollars) over the next decade to protect and
improve the ecological environment of the valley of Qinghai Lake, the
country's biggest inland saltwater lake.

The 10-year project aimed to help conserve wetlands, restore grassland,
control rats and pests, prevent land desertification, plant trees,
resettle residents, offer safe drinking water to rural people, renovate
riverways, and others, said a government spokesman. (XBW)
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