China’s seemingly ever-expanding deserts have in recent years shrunk for the first time, the government said Monday, although the amount of land saved from an arid fate was relatively modest. The nation recorded an average net shrinkage of its deserts of 1,283 square kilometers (495 square miles) per year since the beginning of the decade, said State Forestry Administration director Jia Zhibang.

“It’s the first time since the people’s republic was established (in 1949) that we have brought about a reversal,” Jia told a briefing in Beijing.

The shrinkage in recent years compares with an average net annual increase of China’s deserts of 3,436 square kilometers in the second half of the 1990s, according to Jia.

The reversal is partly a result of intensified efforts to plant more trees, Jia said.

In the past five years, the percentage of China’s land area covered by forest has increased from 16.6 percent to 18.2 percent, and the government hopes to raise that figure to 20 percent by 2010, Jia said.

They also have an interesting program of planting sod squares of self-sowing, drought-resistant grasses alongside all highways and roads passing through desert regions. 1st priority there is to stabilize dunes; but, taking back the land has been a bonus.

  1. Scott Gant says:

    What’s this with desserts getting smaller? Huh? I just went to Baker’s Square and their desserts are fricken huge! I couldn’t even eat the whole thing.

    So China doesn’t have Baker’s Squares over there or something? Well, that sounds like we have to…..oh wait, what’s that? Oh, DESERTS.

    Nevermind then.

  2. Me says:

    If you eat a dessert in the desert will you cause a black hole?

    No wait, it’s always sunny in the desert so it wouldn’t be black. Never mind.

  3. david says:

    A derserter was in the desert eating a dessert he didn’t deserve.

  4. Mr Fusion says:

    Cute dave

    Good progress and actual action towards helping the planet. The trees will soak up only a small part of the CO2 China dumps into the air, but it is better then nothing.

  5. Me says:

    If you melt more polar ice, you have more water in the ocean, which is where most of the CO2 ends up – so that’s the best way to control it.

    Wait a minute, CO2 helps plants grow which helps shirnk the desert so maybe we don’t want to control it.


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