China plans to spend over 18.7 billion yuan in the areas around
Junggar Basin, Ebi-Nur Lake Basin, and Tarim Basin in order to hold
back the expansion of the Taklamakan Desert and Gurbantonggut
Desert, both located in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
This campaign will span eight years, from 2008 to 2015, covering
58 counties and county-level cities across Xinjiang. The central
government will provide 80 percent of the funds for this campaign
and the rest will come from the local government, non-governmental
organizations, and individuals in Xinjiang.
The campaign will be divided into two phases, according to
Ismail Tiliwaldi, chairman of the autonomous regional government.
In the first phase, from 2008 to 2010, Xinjiang will harness the
desertification of 3.43 million hectares of land and improve the
condition. By 2015, another 7.6 million hectares will be bettered,
of which 1.67 million hectares will be covered by forests. The
seriously desertified areas around the three basins at present will
be safeguarded by a sound and comprehensive system of prevention
and care. Their environment will be improved, and as a result, the
expansion of the two great deserts is expected to stop.
The Forestry Department of Xinjiang reveals that in the eight
years to come, Xinjiang will use both biological and non-biological
means to fight against desertification. According to ecological
experts, drought, strong wind, and abundance in sand materials are
the main natural factors contributing to land desertification in
Xinjiang. In addition, a population surge and improperly handled
production activities also can accelerate this kind of land
With desertified land of over 1.8 million square kilometers,
Xinjiang is tortured by the most hazardous sandstorms of China.
Land desertification directly affects life and production of over
12 million people living in the region. Fortunately, in the last
decade, joint efforts by the central government and local people of
Xinjiang have effectively slowed the pace of sand's evasion. Now
sand can only manage to occupy 1.04 million hectares of land per
year, a great decline from yearly 3.84 million hectares in the
Oases are the only places where people can make a living in
Xinjiang. But they occupy only 70,700 square kilometers, accounting
for only 4.2 percent of Xinjiang's territory. Embedded among the
deserts, they are separated from each other.
Forests are rare in Xinjiang. Only 2.94 percent of the whole
region is covered by forests. In its oases, forest-covered land
only amounts to14.95 percent.
(China.org.cn by Pang Li July 13, 2007)