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In line with the new Chinese leadership’s emphasis on “sustainable development”, China is marking its 35th year of the shelter forest program which is aimed at combating land desertification.
China’s deserts are decreasing by 1,717 square km on an annual average basis.
Severe land degradation is now affecting 168 countries across the world, according to new research released by the UN Desertification Convention (UNCCD).
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) describes desertification as “land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors including climatic variations and human activities”.
Experts and researchers on Saturday unveiled a new plant technology in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, to harness desertification of China.
Chinese experts claimed Juncao, a kind of herbaceous herb, can be cultivated as substrate for edible and medicinal fungi, which may make great strides in sand control.
Chinese State Forestry Administration (SFA) has announced funds of $34.5 billion by 2020 for the shelter forest project.
SFA is also running a campaign Green Ribbon in association with state-owned Xinhua news agency.
Launched in 1978, the Three-North Shelterbelt Forest Program targeted the northwest, north and northeast China, in order to reduce local grasslands becoming deserts.
The project aims to complete its mission by 2050 and cover 4.07 million square km, including over 90 percent of the country’s regions hit hardest by sandstorms and water and soil erosion.
According to a new UN report global population will grow to 9.3 billion by mid-century and with the threat of large scale desertification, the world will struggle to feed it’s burgeoning population.
Meanwhile, new SFA data from China shows forest coverage in the treated areas had increased to 12.4 per cent at the end of 2012 from 5.05 per cent in 1977.
In May, President Xi Jinping pledged that China will not sacrifice the environment for temporary economic growth.
China’s forest coverage totaled 195 million hectares (1.95 million square km), or 20.36 percent of the country’s total area, as of 2008.
Chinese officials have stressed that ‘green urbanization’ is not an option, but imperative for China now.
Namibia will host the 11th United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Conference of the Parties (COP11) from 16 to 27 September 2013.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies