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Environmental monitoring official urges anti-desertification efforts in Xinjiang

(Xinhua)

09:34, March 11, 2012

BEIJING, March 10 (Xinhua) -- An environmental monitoring official from China's northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region said here Saturday that anti-desertification programs should be launched "as soon as possible" to prevent and control the expanding of desertification areas in the region.

"Areas affected by desertification are expanding at an annual rate of 82 square kilometers in Xinjiang," said Amaby Dawut, deputy head of a local environment monitoring station in the Kazak Autonomous Prefecture of Ili, on the sidelines of the country's annual legislative session.

Xinjiang is the source of sandstorm affecting Beijing and Tianjin, and one of the few places in China that still witnesses expansion of land desertification, according to Dawut.

Currently Xinjiang has 746,300 square kilometers of desertification land, accounting for 45 percent of the region's land mass and 43 percent of the total desertification area in the country, according to Dawut.

The Xinjiang government has promulgated two anti-desertification plans for areas around the Tarim Basin and southern Junggar Basin, one of which has gained approval from the National Development and Reform Commission, while the other is still under improvement, said Dawut.

"We aim to curb the expansion of desertification areas and protect the ecological safety of the oasis by planting windbreaks, farmland shelterbelts and enclosing forests for protection," he said, urging the government to allocate funding and launch the two projects as early as possible.

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