China: 100M could lose land to erosion -- survey

As many as 100 million people in southwestern China could lose the land they depend on within 35 years if soil erosion continues at the current rate, according to a nationwide survey.

Deforestation and farming practices are the principal drivers of the erosion, the survey from China's bio-environment security research team said. The report predicts harvests in northeastern China -- known as the national breadbasket -- could fall by 40 percent within half a century on current trends, even as the country's population of 1.3 billion continues to grow.

"If we don't conduct effective measures, erosion will cause major damage to social and economic development," Chen Lei, the director of the Ministry of Water Resources, told state media.

The costs of erosion are expected to total $29 billion (200 billion yuan) in this decade alone, the report said, noting that poor people, many of whom live in coastal areas, will be the hardest hit (Tania Branigan, London Guardian, Nov. 21).

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