A comprehensive scientific investigation into soil erosion,
which threatens more than a third of China's territory, was
launched on Sunday.
"More than 200 experts in the fields of ecology, environment,
water and soil resources, law and policy-making will be involved,
the largest war on soil erosion China has launched in 56 years,"
Launching the investigation in Beijing, Liu Zhen, director of
the Water and Soil Conservation Department under the Ministry of Water
Resources, said the experts, including 23 academics from the
Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Academy of Engineering of
China, will be looking for ways to curb the problem.
In the coming 18 months, eight special groups and three research
teams will travel throughout the country to determine the extent of
erosion across China, Liu added.
They will be looking into how soil has eroded away in eight
regions -- the northwest loess area and desert region, the upstream
area of the Yangtze River, the black soil area in the northeast,
the earth-rock mountain area of the north, the red soil area in the
south, the stone deserts of southwestern provinces and regions
under mass construction.
One of the most important missions of the scheme, Liu said, is
to raise public awareness of how vital it is to protect water and
soil resources and the environment.
"We hope the investigation will help strengthen China's soil
erosion control mechanisms and enable decision-makers to devise
relevant strategies," Liu added.
Once the research is completed, goals, standards, technological
channels and appropriate solutions to slow or halt soil erosion in
the next two decades will be drawn up.
Erosion caused by water, wind, and the cumulative effects of
freezing and melting -- for example, landslides and mud-rock flows
-- have affected 3.56 million square kilometers of the country's
land mass, or 37.1 percent of its total territory, according to a
2004 national survey.
"We must upgrade our concepts and better understand the
relationship between people and nature today because the
sustainability of water, soil and other natural resources is a key
contributing factor to China's continued and future development,"
said Sun Honglie, a senior CAS academic.
China has, since the 1990s, been faced with serious ecological
and social issues brought about by its rapid economic growth.
(China Daily July 5, 2005)