November 21, 2008

China May Endure Massive Erosion

A three-year nationwide survey has found that over a third of China's land is being scoured by serious erosion that is putting its crops and water supply at risk.

The country's bio-environment security research team said soil is being washed and blown away not only in remote rural areas, but near mines, factories and even cities.

Every year, 4.5 billion tons of soil are lost, which threatens the country's ability to feed itself.

Harvest in China's northeastern breadbasket could fall 40 percent in 50 years if the loss continues at this rate.  Adding to erosion costs estimated at 200 billion yuan ($29 billion) in this decade alone.

"China has a more dire situation than India, Japan, the United States, Australia and many other countries suffering from soil erosion," the research team said.

Beijing has been worried about the desertification of its northern grasslands, and scaled back logging  after rain rushing down denuded mountainsides during a mass flooding in the late 1990s.

Around 1.6 million square km of land are still being degraded by water erosion, with almost ever river basin affected.  The report said, another 2.0 million square km are under attack from wind.  The survey was the longest survey on soil conservation since the Communist Part took control of China in 1949.