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|Wednesday, April 26, 2000, updated at 12:00(GMT+8)|
Magazine Calls for Desert Control in ChinaOne of China's leading news magazines carries an article in its current issue calling for greater efforts to curb the spread of desert and sandy wastes, which now account for 40 percent of the country's total land mass of 9.6 million sq. km, and are growing by 2,460 sq. km. annually.
The article in China Comment Biweekly, titled "Behind the Sandstorms," discusses the causes and effects of the powerful sandy winds and rains in Beijing, the Chinese capital, and many other big cities in the country in recent weeks.
It reveals that deserts in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, along with lingering drought conditions, are mainly to blame for the atrocious weather. In fact, sandstorms have exacerbated the drought situation, it says.
Deserts have resulted in an increase in the number of sandstorms, it says. In the 1990s, China has experienced over 20 sandstorms a year, up from eight in the 1960s.
In recent years, sandstorms have caused direct financial losses of 54 billion yuan annually, which is three times the revenue of five northwestern provinces and ethnic autonomous regions in 1996.
A desert, referred to as the "heavenly desert", is now only 70 km from Beijing, and the recent sandstorms have pushed it one meter closer to the Chinese capital, according to the article.
Liu Tuo, a desert-control expert from the State Forestry Administration, said that to launch a desert-control project focused on protecting and planting trees and grass is the best way to control sandstorms.
He urged that vegetation in the desert areas be protected through planting trees and grass, which would create natural walls against the desert advance. Meanwhile, more should be done to establish comprehensive control over the deserts and increase the area of oases.
Local governments in Beijing, Hebei Province, and Inner Mongolia are planning to accelerate their pace of expanding forests and grassland so as to form a multi-purpose green shelter around the Chinese capital.
China's environment is expected to improve in 10 years, if progress can be made in policies, laws, science and technology, and people's way of thinking on the matter, according to Li Yucai, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration.
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