The deserts in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region have been driven back over the last eight years thanks to increased afforestation, resulting in less sandstorms in the region, a senior official said Wednesday.
Yang Jing, chairman of the autonomous region said that Inner Mongolia's forest coverage had increased to 17.6 percent last year from 14.8 percent in 1999 and the area of land affected by desertification had shrunk by more than two million hectares.
"Sandstorms occurring in Inner Mongolia have been brought under control, which has also helped to improve the environment in Beijing and Tianjin," he said.
Chu Bo, the region's Party chief, said the government had strictly controlled the number of livestock raised on grassland and put them into farms.
Only 30 percent of livestock are now raised on the grasslands, said Chu.
Chu said herdsmen and farmers had been relocated from the grasslands and encouraged to work in the industrial and service sectors.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. With an area of 1.18 million square kilometers, it covers 12 percent of China's territory and is the third largest Chinese region in terms of area. Its population was 23.86 million at the end of 2005.
(Xinhua News Agency July 26, 2007)