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Geological Erosion Shrinks Tianchi Lake
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Landslides and other forms of geological erosion around prestigious Tianchi Lake in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have been causing a shrinkage of the lake in the past decade.

"Tianchi Lake will disappear in a matter of some 80 years if nothing is done," warned Gao Feng, director in charge of natural forest protection under the administration of Tianchi Natural Reserve.

The lake's southern bank is now 18 meters closer to the center of the lake than in 1992 and the depth has dropped to 80 meters from 100 meters 10 years ago.

An area of nearly seven hectares of grassland that used to cover the southern bank is now denuded.

Gao said the silt in the lake came mostly from the upper reaches of the valley.

Farming, tourism and the lumber trade, among others, have resulted in deforestation and reduced grassland, and ensuing floods and landslides.

The local government is taking a range of substantial measures to check further deterioration of the ecological environment in its vicinity. The city of Fukang on the upper reaches of the lake, has afforested more than 30 hectares of bare land over recent years.

Lake administrators allocated 15 million yuan (US$1.8 million) to build fenced pastures on the lower reaches and persuade herdsmen to move down the mountain.

Tianchi, dubbed "the Pearl of Tianshan Ranges," covers an area 4.9 sq km in size and abounds in wildlife and other natural resources.

(CRI. June 13, 2003)

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