China to further protect desertified land

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Photo taken on July 16, 2012 shows the grass square used to fix sand dunes on the north bank of the Yarlung Zangbo River, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. (Xinhua File Photo by Purbu Zhaxi)

The State Forestry Administration of China rolled out guidelines on protecting the country's desertified land on Tuesday.

The guideline advised more than 1.2 million square kilometers of desertified land in China be closed off as a protection zone so as to control drifting sand and improve the environment.

The guidelines, effective from July to the end of 2020, demand that activities including cutting down trees, cultivating land, animal grazing, resource exploration, mining, and misuse of water be prohibited in the protected zones. Construction of railways and highways are not allowed. No immigrants should be settled in the areas.

According to the guidelines, the protected areas should be important locations that have an impact on regional and national ecology and have suffered from frequent human activity.

Desertified land, which is land that has become barren due to constant water shortages and excessive exploitation, makes up more than half of the total desert area.

According to statistics from the State Forestry Administration, China had a desert area of around 2.62 million square kilometers, which accounts for 27 percent of its total land area.