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Ecological Way to Save Minqin Oasis

The Minqin Oasis, located in north China's Gansu Province, is now decreasing tremendously and facing the threat of disappearing. To save the Minqin Oasis, it is essential to do an "ecological relocation" of people, suggested a member of Gansu Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Li Fengmin submitted his Suggestions about Actively Pushing the Ecological Relocation of People in Minqin County recently, expressing his anxiety about the future of the Minqin Oasis.

Li stated that methods, such as artificial afforestation, grass seeding, overall water conservation and water diversion from other regions, can't fundamentally save the Minqin Oasis. To revitalize the Minqin Oasis, an "ecological relocation" of local people must play a vital role.

Minqin County, located between the Tengger Desert and the Badain Jaran Desert, has become one of the regions most frequently hit by sand-dust storms. Under the co-attack of these two great deserts, the underground water level of the Minqin Oasis continues to drop.

Minqin County belongs to the Hexi (or Gansu) Corridor, known as the "throat" of Eurasia. If the situation deteriorates day by day, the "waist" will possibly cut off the Minqin Oasis. The Eurasia continental bridge may be forced to stop or even vanish under the furious desert attack. Then the "domino effect" will definitely and directly influence global climate.

"The key problem concerning the Minqin Oasis is water," said Lin with anxiety. Water is the lifeline of any oasis. As long as water exists, life forms and the oasis can survive, while without water the oasis will inevitably die away. "But the special location and the over-intervention of human behavior toward the ecology here have accelerated the desertification process of the oasis."

According to the latest statistics, the desert covers 49 percent of Minqin County. In the county, 250,000-mu (16,700 hectares) of the tillable land is left barren, 3.95-million-mu (263,000 hectares) of the grassland has degenerated, 580,000-mu (38,700 hectares) of the woodland as well as 100,000-mu (6,700 hectares) of the arable land has become deserts, 130,000-mu (8,700 hectares) of oleaster trees and 350,000-mu (23,300 hectares) of Chinese tamarisk have died or half-died.

"If the Minqin Oasis disappears, the dust-sand storms from the Hexi Corridor will be much more serious," said a member of Gansu Provincial Committee of the CPPCC from Minqin County.

The "ecological relocation" of people in this area and the improvement of the oasis pattern could reduce ecological pressures on the Minqin Oasis and maintain a sustainable development in this region. Li estimated a half or at least one third of the people should be removed from the region in 10 years to ensure a basic balance between human and water resources around the Minqin Oasis, thus changing the environmental status of this area.

Other Gansu CPPCC members also called for the further development of the Spark Industrial Belt (Spark stands for the program of promoting the industrial development in local economies) in the Hexi Corridor in order to attract more people living near the Minqin Oasis to relocate there.

Also, Gansu should strictly limit the well-drilling activities, opening up wastelands and herding at the edge of the Minqin Oasis and other desert areas, in order to diminish the outside sand-dust storm sources, as well as to protect the exterior environment of the oasis, the Gansu members advised.

(China Development Gateway by Sun Wan, February 25, 2008)

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