About 68 million hectares or 41.2 percent of Xinjiang's total area are considered suitable for the development of agricultural, forestry and animal husbandry. Of this there are some 48 million hectares of natural grassland for grazing, 9 million hectares available for reclamation, over 4 million hectares under cultivation and 666,700 hectares of man-made pastures. Xinjiang is one of the country's five major grazing areas. In addition there are some 4.8 million hectares of land available for forestry including 1.5 million hectares in production with reserves of some 250 million cubic meters of timber.
Xinjiang is home to 699 species of wild fauna, including 85 species of fish, 7 species of amphibians, 45 species of reptiles and 137 species of mammals. More than 4,000 species of wild flora have been identified, of which over 1,000 varieties such as bluish dogbane and Taraxacum kok-saghyz ( T. kok-saghyz Rodin ), are of significant economic value.
Among the 122 minerals that have been discovered, several are the largest reserves nationwide. These include beryllium, muscovite, natron saltpeter, pottery clay and serpentine.
Known reserves of iron ore are put at 730 million tons, while those for salt are 318 million tons, mirabilite 170 million tons and natron saltpeter over 2 million tons.
With its deposits of more than 70 non-metalic minerals, Xinjiang is well known both at home and abroad for its muscovite, gemstones, asbestos and Khotan (Hetian) jade.
Water and energy
Xinjiang has an annual runoff of some 88 billion cubic meters of surface water together with 25 billion cubic meters of exploitable groundwater. Glaciers covering 24,000 square kilometers lock away over 2,580 billion cubic meters of water.
Generous annual sunshine is in the range 2,600 to 3,400 hours.
Estimates put Xinjiang's coal reserves at about 38 percent of the national total.
Petroleum and natural gas reserves estimated at 30 billion tons, account for more than 25 percent of the national total.
Environment and current issues
In 2003, the volume of sulfur dioxide discharged was managed down to a level of 293,000 tons, a decrease of 1.1 percent on the year before. Meanwhile the 187,000 tons of smoke discharged represented a drop of 2.1 percent.
Industrial dust saw an increase of 1.4 percent to 95,000 tons. Industrial solid wastes were up 0.3 percent at 691,000 tons. Oxygen-depleting chemical residues in waste water were up 3.5 percent at 212,000 tons.
Looking at the overall picture, every-day pollution discharges had been slightly reduced on the year before. The number of days when the state air quality standards were satisfied at first or second-grade was 5.3 percentage points higher at 63.4 percent for the year. About 17.8 percent of the days met the third-grade, a drop of 3.9 percent. The days meeting the fourth and fifth grades accounted for 18.8 percent, down 1.4 percent.
Twenty-six nature reserves have been established around the region. Seven are national-class reserves. These are: Xinjiang Altun Mountain National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang Bayinbulak Swan National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang Kanas National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang West Tianshan National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang Ganjiahu Saxoul Forests National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang Tomur Peak National Nature Reserve and Xinjiang Lop Nur Wild Camel National Nature Reserve.
Nature reserves occupy an area of 204,200 square kilometers. Eight national-class ecological demonstration zones have been approved. Within these, eight experimental areas and units/workplaces have been set up.
There are 58 smoke-control zones, protecting an area of some 352 square kilometers, up by 0.2 percent on the previous year. Thirty-nine zones have satisfied the environmental noise criteria, covering an area of 315 square kilometers, up 5 percent.