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China begins massive desertification monitoring campaign

The Chinese government has launched its third and largest ever campaign to monitor desertification. Zhu Lieke, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration, told a national meeting on the launch of China’s third campaign to monitor land desertification that the event was expected to last for 18 months and cover 851 counties in 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, confronting the problem of desertification. More than 10,000 experts, scholars and technicians would take part in the campaign, a record number of personnel. Zhu noted that the technical method would generally follow the previous practice of combining land-surface survey with satellite remote-sensing technology, geographic information system and the global positioning system.

The leading group of the campaign would release the results in 2005, including information on the position and coverage of different kinds of desertified land, their development since 1999 and an overall analysis of the situation, its trends, adverse effects and control. Conducted every five years, it is the world’s only government-sponsored dersertification monitoring campaign. The area of desertified land in China was estimated at 1.689 million square kilometers in 1994 and 1.743 million sq km in 1999.