Fertile farmlands are turning into deserts in China because of desertification.



One-third of China is now Desert, and it is Getting Worse


China stands to become the world’s largest desert with a third of this country’s huge landmass already turned into arid deserts unsuitable for human habitation or agriculture by unstoppable desertification.

But more than its economic and human impact, desertification has hit the hardest the neighboring northern provinces of Xinjiang and Tibet, the two most restive provinces in China where independence movements by restless Uyghurs and ethnic Tibetans still command respect.

Desertification is now also threatening Mongolia, another uneasy province also in the north. Political stability will become more uncertain in these three problematic provinces as desertification creeps forward.

The advance of desertification is alarming. Already over one million square miles or one third of China is classified as desert or wasteland. Creeping deserts are threatening 400 million people, or close to a third of the 1.4 billion people in China. Desertification costs China some US$6.9 billion every year.

Over the past decade, Beijing reported that deserts have expanded 1,500 square miles a year. Since China’s total land area is some 3,700,000 square miles, the desert will engulf all of China in some 2,500 years if nothing effective is done to stop this threat.

While this is still a long way off, the problems triggered by creeping desertification are urgent and dire. Beijing has mounted extraordinary efforts to reduce the rate of desertification, but admitted in 2011 that the “desertification trend has not fundamentally reversed.” It remains this way today.

It is a staggering statistic that a third of China is desert or is turning into desert. One source said desertification is being caused by overgrazing by livestock, over cultivation, excessive water use and climate change

Read the full article: China Topix


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.