Desertification (land degradation and sand encroachment) is one the most severe environmental problems facing China. The area affected, which is 4.38 million sq km or about 45 percent of China's land territory, far exceeds the nation's total farmland. Years of hard work are beginning to produce results. Between November 2003 and April 2005, the State Forestry Administration carried out the third nationwide monitoring of land degradation and sand encroachment, which showed that the areas affected had both been lessened for the first time since the founding of PRC in 1949, and that the overall expansionary trend was beginning to be stemmed.
The State Forestry Administration has implemented a nationwide sand control program, which has three phases: The first phase aims to get a basic control of desertification by 2010; the second phase aims to reduce the area of desertification every year until 2030; and the third phase aims to raise the nation's forest cover and bring all sources of desertification under effective control by the year 2050.