Conservation efforts in Inner Mongolia have spurred the northern
region's development and benefited the national capital, top
regional officials said yesterday in Beijing.
The autonomous region, which is known as a major source of the
seasonal sandstorms that blanket Beijing, has "done what it could"
to curb ecological deterioration, Yang Jing, chairman of the
regional government, said.
"Protecting the environment has been listed as Inner Mongolia's
most important infrastructure project," Yang told a press
conference organized by the State Council Information Office
yesterday to mark the region's 60th anniversary.
"The number of sandstorms has fallen significantly in recent
years, which favorably influences the weather in Beijing and
Inner Mongolia, which is some 300 km north of Beijing, has long
been thought of as the capital's backyard. However, the distance is
not enough to protect Beijing from the wind-borne dust and sand
that blow down from the region.
Dust blown in from western Inner Mongolia blanketed Beijing
nearly two months ago, lowering visibility to 4 km from 20 km the
Inner Mongolia has spent some 20 billion yuan (US$2.7 billion)
on efforts to halt desertification in an area measuring 16.7
million hectares over the past five years. It has also increased
its forest coverage to 17.6 percent of its total area from 14.8
percent in 1999, Yang said.
At least 3 billion yuan was earmarked to implement the massive
"Beijing-Tianjin windblown sand sources control project" in a bid
to build a green ecological belt in northern China, according to
regional government sources.
The project involves 458,000 sq km of land, about 48 percent of
which lies in Inner Mongolia.
"There are several sources of sand and dust (affecting Beijing)
besides Inner Mongolia. We have done what we could on our part,"
Chu Bo, secretary of the regional committee of the Communist
Party of China, said yesterday that 70 percent of the region's
livestock has been confined to enclosed pastures to reduce the
grazing pressure on grasslands.
In addition to returning farmland to forests and reclaiming
overgrazed pastures, Inner Mongolia has encouraged traditional
pastoral areas to develop alternative industries.
Citing Erdos as a success story, Chu said the city would have
plunged into an ecological vicious circle had it not built up
secondary and tertiary industries.
As a result, the city of 1.4 million people is expected to have
a gross domestic product of 100 billion yuan (US$13 billion) this
year, a level of prosperity that can only be found in the country's
coastal regions, Chu said.
Inner Mongolia is home to China's largest grasslands. The region
spans 1.18 million sq km, which is about twice the size of
(China Daily July 26, 2007)