Worsening stone desertification is threatening the survival of about 450,000 farmers in southwest China's Guizhou Province and they're in desperate need of being relocated, local authorities have warned.
Desertification occurs when arable or habitable land is transformed into desert. Guizhou is affected by a form called "stone desertification" in which soil is eroded, water levels drop, the land begins to become barren and underlying stones are exposed.
Guizhou is the Chinese province which suffers most from this type of desertification. About one fifth of the province's land area -- 35,920 square kilometers -- is affected by the rocky desertification, according to the Guizhou Provincial Department of Water Resources.
As the soil erodes the survival of local farmers becomes increasingly precarious. About 450,000 local residents are facing a drastic deterioration of their living conditions, said an official from the department. But he didn’t provide details of any relocation plans.
Soil erosion affects up to 73,200 square kilometers of land in Guizhou -- 41 percent of its total land area -- but around 25,000 square kilometers have been brought under control along the upper reaches of the Yangtze and Pearl Rivers in the past few years, the official said.
At the current rate at which damaged areas are being recovered -- 1,000 square kilometers per year -- Guizhou would need at least 70 years to bring soil erosion under control, he explained.
(Xinhua News Agency January 15, 2007)