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The Speech at the News Briefing of the State Council Information Office
国务院新闻办公室网站 www.scio.gov.cn   2015-12-29   来源:China SCIO
  

The Speech at the News Briefing of the State Council Information Office

Zhang Jianlong
Administrator of the State Forestry Administration
29 December, 2015

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Good morning. The national monitoring of land desertification and sandification is carried out every five years to update the status of desertification and sandification in China. The fifth survey started in 2013 and lasted over two years, involving over 5,000 technicians. By using remote sensing, geographic information, global GPS and ground survey technologies, we have obtained the latest data of the current status and dynamics of land desertification and sandification in China.

According to the latest monitoring results, by 2014 the desertification area in China was 2.6116 million square kilometers, accounting for 27.20% of the national territory. The sandification area was 1.7212 million square kilometers, accounting for 17.93% of the national territory. Land with notable trend of sandification totaled 300,300 square kilometers, accounting for 3.12% of the national territory and 203,700 square kilometers of sandland has been effectively improved, accounting for 11.8% of the national territory.

Compared with the fourth monitoring (in 2009), the results of the fifth monitoring are much more encouraging. There is a momentum of overall containment and continuous reduction of desertified land and improved land anti-desertification functions, especially in the following five aspects.

First, the desertification and sandification area keep a net reduction. Desertified land fell from 2.6237 million square kilometers to 2.6116 million square kilometers, with a net reduction of 12,120 square kilometers and an average annual reduction of 2,424 square kilometers. Sandified land fell from 1.7311 million square kilometers to 1.7212 million square kilometers, with a net reduction of 9,902 square kilometers and an average annual reduction of 1,980 square kilometers, more than the average annual reduction of 1,717 square kilometers during the fourth monitoring. The desertification and sandification in China has remained a net reduction for 10 years since 2004.

Second, the degree of desertification and sandification has continued to decline. The degree of desertification and sandification is turning from “extremely severe” to “moderate”. For desertified land, the extremely severe one reduced by 28,300 square kilometers and the moderate one increased 83,600 square kilometers. For sandified land, the extremely severe one was reduced by 74,800 square kilometers and the moderate one increased 41,900 square kilometers. The extremely severe desertified and sandified land reduced by 5.03% and 7.90% respectively.

Third, vegetation is further improved. In 2014 the average vegetation coverage in sandy area was 18.33%, up by 0.7 percentage point in five years. Vegetation in eastern sandy areas such as Hulun Buir Sandland, Onqin Daga Sandland, Horqin Sandland, Mu Us Sandland and Hobq Desert has increased by 8.3 percentage points, with local carbon sequestration capacity up by 8.5%.

Fourth, sandstorms in related regions have been reduced. The soil wind erosion in the eastern sandy areas has been reduced, with a reduction of 33%. The total reduction of surface duct release has declined by 37%. The increased vegetation contributed 20% for this improvement. The frequency of sandstorms has significantly dropped to an average of 9.4 times each year in the past five years, down by 20.3% compared with the previous monitoring period. In Beijing, the figures are 2 and 63.0% respectively.

Fifth, the forest-sand industry has grown rapidly. In combating desertification, local government has taken great efforts to develop forest-sand industry. The area of economic forest in sandy areas has totaled 5.4 million square kilometers. The annual production of fresh and dried fruits has reached 53.6 million tons, accounting for 33.9% of the annual national production. Forestry and fruits industries have boosted plantation, processing, storage and transportation industries and have become local pillar industries to help farmers increasing income. In Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region alone, the planting areas for orchard have topped 1.46 million hectares, with an annual output of 6.5 million tons, annual value of more than 45 billion yuan. It contributed to a 1,400 yuan increase to farmers’ per capita income.

The monitoring results indicate that the strategy adopted by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on forestry development and ecological construction and the key projects and policies implemented by the government are highly successful. It also shows that land desertification and sandification in China are still serious. Ecological preservation and combating desertification remain an arduous task and there is a long way to go before the target is met.

First, combating desertification is a tough task. Desertified and sandified land account for over 1/4 and 1/6 of China’s territory respectively and become the most serious ecological issue in China. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, 100,000 square kilometers of sandified land need to be improved, which means 20,000 square kilometers annually. The task is tough because the remaining sandy areas are all “hard nuts” to crack. It requires tremendous efforts to fulfill the task.

Second, ecological preservation and improvement face arduous tasks. Given poor natural conditions and fragile eco-system in sandy areas, it is easier to destroy than to restore. The 300,300 square kilometers of land with significant sandification tendencies will easily become sandland if it is not properly protected or utilized. The initially improved land account for 55% of all the restored land but relapse is highly probable and preservation is highly difficult. In addition, conditions are not yet ripe to harness 280,000 square kilometers of sandland which should be closed for protection.

Third, reckless resource development is yet to be controlled. Land reclamation in sandy areas, overgrazing, excessive water resource development and utilization remain serious issues. In the past five years, farmland in sandy areas and sandified farmland have increased by 3.60% and 8.76% respectively. In 2014 per capita livestock overgrazing ratio in pastoral areas reached 20.6%. Inland lakes continue to shrink and river dry-up happens from time to time. The ground water level continues to fall. Studies show that in the past 3 decades the number and area of lakes in Inner Mongolia have both dropped by 30% and the ground water level of the Horqin Sandland has fallen by 2.07 meters in the past decade. This has posed serious challenge to ecological and vegetation preservation in sandy areas.

Strengthening efforts to harness desertification and sandification in a comprehensive manner is urgently required for ecological preservation, building a beautiful China and improving eco-environment and people’s life in sandland and a strategic choice to promote coordinated regional development. We will follow the guidance of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council and the principle of putting protection first, scientific management and proper utilization, further innovate mechanisms, improve policies and strengthen efforts to harness desertification according to law. We will press ahead with key projects of anti-desertification and sandification with support from the people and scientific innovation and build an eco-friendly homeland for the people living in sandy areas.

Now I am ready to take your questions.

[责任编辑:康小兰 ]
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