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China invests to save shrinking salt lake in far western Gobi region


19:25, December 12, 2011

URUMQI, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- A project has been launched to try to save a salt lake in China's far west Gobi region that has been shrinking by around 38 square km a year through desertification.

Funded by the World Bank and the Chinese government, the four-year work will look scientifically at the causes of the problem affecting Lake Aibi, and seek to restore the area's ecosystem through piloting various solutions, local officials announced Monday.

Lake Aibi sits in an internally draining, salt-rich basin near the border of China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Kazakstan.

The annual loss of around 38 square km of its area has reduced it to 530 square km in size, with more than 1,500 square km having been dried up in recent years, the officials said.

The dry earth left behind is frequently whipped up into sandstorms that have been plaguing China's northern regions.

The scheme requires funding of 12.18 million U.S. dollars, about 74 percent of which has been pledged by the central and local government while the rest will be covered by a grant from the World Bank's Global Environment Facility.

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