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China May Lose 60,000 sq km to Man-made Soil Erosion by 2010

Erosion could wipe away more than 61,600 square kilometers of land by 2010 as China gears up economic development, said Vice Water Resources Minister E Jingping on Friday.

The figure represents an increase of 11.5 percent from the amount lost from 2001 to 2005, he added.

E said the situation had deteriorated as the country stepped up urbanization and industrialization.

Soil erosion was commonly believed to be caused by economic activities that destroyed plants and failed to allow them to regenerate, as well as by natural conditions.

Overgrazing, deforestation, hillside farming, mining and road construction were frequently cited as examples of irrational economic activities.

Erosion made the land less fertile or turned the soil into sand, and could affect agricultural production and lead to more frequent natural disasters such as drought.

Farmers would suffer most as the natural environment deteriorated.

The area affected by soil erosion expanded by about 15,000 sq km in China every year due to man-made factors, causing an increase of 300 million tons of soil loss annually, said E.

"It will harm the country's economic and social development if we don't have effective measures to address the problem," said E.

The ministry said it published a circular to strengthen soil conservation assessment of new projects in an effort to check the erosion.

It stressed that projects that would change more than 70 percent of the natural physiognomies of an area to be developed, or damaged more than 70 percent of the plants there should fail soil conservation assessments.

E said the country had reversed soil erosion over an area of 960,000 square kilometers, or 10 percent of its total land area, by the end of 2006 as efforts to fight soil erosion paid off.

Soil conservation efforts also helped increase grain production by 18 billion kilograms a year and improved livelihoods for more than 13 million residents in areas affected by soil erosion.

(Xinhua News Agency June 30, 2007)


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