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Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment Vol.11 (2): 1025-1032. 2013
The status quo of desertification and the prevention strategy in Xinjiang
Fangmiao Chen 1*, Jiali Xie 2, Wei Zheng 3, Ying Liu 1, Tian Ping Lu 3, Qibo Zhao 5, Yuegao Hu1
and Mohamad Hesam Shahrajabian 1
College of Agriculture and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, Beijing100194, China. 2Key Laboratory of
Desert and Desertification, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of
Sciences, Lanzhou,730000,China. 3College of Grassland and Environment Sciences, Xinjiang Agriculture University, Xinjiang,
830052, China. 4Institute of Desertification Studies, Xinjiang Academy of Forestry Sciences, Xinjiang 830063, China.
Institute of Economic Crops Research, Xinjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Xinjiang 830000, China.
*e-mail: [email protected]
Received 21 February 2013, accepted 28 April 2013.
Xinjiang is the important border area and ethnic minority region in China. Desertification has become significant restraint during the development of
western regions and the socioeconomic construction. Applying the geographical structural analysis method, the evolution of the geographical systems
in Xinjiang since 1949 is described as below: expansion of arable land, decrease of productivity and quantity of grassland, decrease of the natural
forests with the increase of planted forests followed by water competition with farmland and grassland, wetland, glacier shrink and groundwater level
descent, sandlot expansion, threatening oasis, population explosion and the tension of resources in community. The general trend could be called
”three increases and three decreases”, that is the expansion of arable land, community, sandlot and the shrink and degradation of lawn, woodland,
wetland. The analysis shows that human behavior is the dominant factor leading to the deterioration of desertification. According with the above
problems, six suggestions are presented: 1) Recognizing the significance of anti-desertification from a strategic angle, 2) Based on the features of the
northern, southern and eastern parts of Xinjiang, implementing prevention and treatment cooperatively, 3) Guiding the work with anti-desertification
engineering methodology, 4) Advancing the cooperation with Shanghai Cooperation Organization, 5) Pay attention to the public’s interest and need,
harmonizing the relations among the public, enterprises and state, 6) Relying deeply on science and technology.
Key words: Desertification, degradation, geographical system, “six-unit” method.
Xinjiang is located in China’s northwest border. With an area of
1.6649 million km2, it accounts for one sixth of the country’s total
land area, and it is surrounded by eight countries, with a land
border line of about 5600 km. Xinjiang is China’s largest province,
which has the longest land border, and adjacent to the largest
number of countries. There are 40 ethnic minorities which account
for 59.9% of the total population in Xinjiang. It makes this region
an important border ethnic autonomous region. Affected by many
factors, Xinjiang‘s desertification situation is grim, and now it has
become the province with the biggest, most widely distributed
and most serious desertificated area in China. In 2009, the
desertification area is 1.0712 million km2 big which accounts for
64.34% of its total area and 40.8% 26 of the total desertification
area in China. At present, 92% of the region’s cities and counties,
68.6% of farms, and 12 million people are suffering from
desertification hazards 33. Our study relies on geographical
structure methods with the method of analysis of arable land,
grassland, woodland, wetlands-water system, sandlot, community,
so we can grasp the overall situation of Xinjiang and provide basis
for construction projects to combat desertification.
Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment, Vol.11 (2), April 2013
The Basic Situation of the Six-Units of Geographical Structure
Arable land: Xinjiang‘s agriculture has a long history, and it is
the most important oasis agriculture production area in China.
Since Han Dynasty, there has been land cultivated activities. After
1949, the arable land had a significant increase in the total area,
but the general quality of these farmlands was so poor that a lot of
them were abandoned. In 1949, Xinjiang‘s farmland area was 120.97
x104 ha; in 2010, it increased to 412.46 x 104 ha with a net increase
of 2.41 times 4, 37 most of them were from cultivated grassland and
wetland. Because of the hot dry weather the oasis agriculture is
seriously salinized. In 2008, the salinized farmland area was 1.62
million ha, compared with 2001, showing a net increase of
approximately 1/3 43. Bayan Gol State, Kashi and Aksu in Southern
Xinjiang are suffering the most from the farmland salinization, as
54.95%, 48.72%, 43.27%, respectively, of the total farmlands 30. In
2010, the area of high-production land was just 36.6 x 104 ha, and
accounted for just 12% of the total cultivated land. According to
the typical survey, the farmers interviewed in Zhaosu and Wusu
regions said that the fertility of the cultivated land has been
declined, and if farmers want to maintain the production of the
land, they must increase the fertilizer and the number of irrigations
in the cultivated land. Because of the infertility, salinization and
the serious wind erosion, more and more cultivated lands were
abandoned. From 1949 to 2004, about 66.6 x 104 to 100 x 104 ha of
arable land in Xinjiang was abandoned due to the salinization,
and it was taken up 20% to 30% of the total cultivated area. The
abandonment was relatively serious in southern part, and this
phenomenon was widespread on the late of 20th century in the
majority of districts. From 1949 to the last 1990s, the area of
abandoned land was 1.06 x 104 ha in Hetian and Luopu, and in the
1970s to 1980s, the area of abandoned land was 50,000 ha in the
Manas River Basin 12, 38. In recent years, a large number of problems
on reclamation of arable land already persist because of farmland
economic benefits. In this study, 36 farmers of Niya Town Minfeng
County were investigated, 75% of them revealed that their family
arable land increased in the past five years. Generally speaking,
although the arable land area is expanding, the arable land
resources are always tense. From 1949 to 2000, the per capita
arable land area decreased from 0.236 to 0.202 ha 34. Since the
beginning of the 21st century, the per capita arable land area is still
in the trend of decreasing.
Grassland: Xinjiang is one of the five provinces of pasture animal
husbandry in China, and it has the extensive natural grassland.
After 1949, the grassland appeared three essential characteristics:
the area of the grassland continued to decrease, the production
descended and the grass disaster happened frequently. From 1980
to 1999, the area of the natural grassland decreased at the speed
of 16% from 5725.9 x 104 to 4809.02 x 104 ha 24. In 2007, the area of
deteriorated grassland was 45.8 million ha, it expanded nearly 10
times more than 1980, and the degradation rate increased 15 times51.
The quantity and quality of the grassland affected the productions
directly. In the past five years, the production of the dry grass
yield decreased 1191.4 x104 tons with a rate of 33.5% 8. In the
aspects of the county scale, the production of fresh grass in
Zhaosu, Wusu and Mulei decreased by 10%, 30% and 17.26%,
respectively 23, 54. The herdsmen interviewed in Zhaosu and Wusu
said that the grassland changed in a drastic way, lots of grassland
just perished. At macroscopic level, the grassland witnesses a
decrease of theoretical stocking rate of animals. The number of
the animals dropped from 7191.9 x104 (in the 1970s) to 359 x104 (in
2008), the decreasing amplitude was more than 50% 8. The number of
practical stocking animals increased several times after 1949 in
Xinjiang, reaching 5700 x 104 19, which exceeded the theoretical
stocking rate by 2/3. The contradiction between the theoretical and
practical stocking rate increased the pressure of the grassland, which
is the trigger of the ecological disorder of grassland. The proportion
of the poison grassland area in Yili Valley (in the north of Xinjiang)
exceeds 1/5 21. It is 15.5% in the province of Aletai, 15.6% in Nilka and
15% in Zhaosu 23, 27, 29. Insects and pests also cause the serious loss.
From 1949 to the beginning of this century, the area of grasshopper –
damaged grassland in Xinjiang accumulated up to 24 million ha. The
area of rat –damaged grassland was about 6.2 million ha; the annual
loss of pasture weed was more than 1 million tons 48. In the near
future, the situation is still not optimistic. In 2008, the area of
grasshopper damaged grassland already reached up to 0.97 million
ha, and the rat –damaged grassland has already been up to 2.67
million ha in Urumqi and Changji prefecture. It was a serious
destruction 50.
Woodland: The natural forest in Xinjiang mainly distributes in
the mountain zone or around the wetlands which contains
appropriate water. There are two important features in the natural
forest: the simple structure of the forest and the sensitive
environment. Since 1949, the degradation of the forest has been
serious happened. The Populus forest in the Downstream area of
the Tarim River reduced by 86%; from 1950s to 1980s, the spruce
forest in northern Tianshan Mountain and Altay Shan reduced
2.5x104 ha 48 and Larch forest reduced 2.6 x 104 ha. From 1950s to
1990s, the forest land area in Aragan area reduced 11.53 x 104 ha 2.
From 1950s to the later1970s, wetland forest area in Gan River
region reduced 23.33 x 104 ha, declined more than 50% 40. In past
10 years, the poplar, Tamarix spp. and Haloxylon ammodendron
forests and bushes on the edge of the Weigan-Kuche Delta Oasis
reduced 12.58 x 104 ha 20. In 2009, Xinjiang has a forest area of
201.62 x 104 ha, a shrub land area of 462.78 x 104 ha forest coverage
rate of 4.02%, compared with 1994, the forest land area increased
by 64,500 ha, forest coverage rate increased 1.39% 37, 47. This is
because of the artificial forest construction after the 1990s.
Although, some forests have been restored, but the problems still
exist. Because the farmers contend for water, some Populus euphratica
forest areas are still in degradation. Furthermore, because of the
large water consumption in the artificial forest construction, the
sustainable ability of these forests is still a problem.
Wetland-water system: The Xinjiang wetlands mainly distribute
in the Tarim River Basin, Altay region and Bortala Mongol
Autonomous District and other places. In 2008, the total area of
natural wetlands was 126.74 x 104 ha, accounting for 0.76% of the
total land area in Xinjiang 12. The basic characteristics of wetland
desertification in this region are the shrinkage and the
disappearance of a large number of wetlands. In modern times,
Xinjiang‘s wetlands are shrinking with an alarming rate. In 1949,
the natural wetlands area was 2.8 million ha 1, in the past 60 years,
more than 55% of these wetlands disappeared. Lop Nur, Manas
Lake have suffered from dry-up 45, 53, many other lakes are also
shrinking with a high-speed. Since 1949, the Ebinur Lake area has
reduced by nearly 50%, 4.7 x 104 ha of reed disappeared. From
1944 to 2011Barkol Lake area has reduced from 112,000 to 3,700
ha. In the period of 1960s-1980s, Wulungu Lake shrunk by 8.35 x
104 ha, compared to the 1980s, Ganjiahu reed production reduced
by 2/3. From 2000 to 2007, the Bosten Lake area decreased by 18.7%,
Marsh area reduced by 40% 3, 11, 31, 36, 40. Lakes shrinkage closely
related to the drying up and reduced upstream river runoff, at the
same time, it also lead to overall environmental deterioration and
desertification along the river land, such as what has already
happened to Kongquehe River, Kaidu River, Manas River and
Tarim River. The change in the Tarim River Basin is the most
significant one. After the 1960s, about 320 km of midstream and
downstream of Tarim River had dried up. From 1990 to 2000, wetland
degradation in the middle and lower reaches of Tarim River led to
the increase of 8.1 x 104 ha of the sandy Gobi area and a 81% reduction
of the Populus forest 6, 7. In order to tackle the ecological water
demand in the lower reaches of Tarim River until the end of 2010,
11 times of downstream ecological water transportation has been
implemented, which brought some achievements. Melting glaciers
and falling water tables are also the basic signs of the wetlandwater system changes. As the climate turns warmer, glacier suffers
a significant reduction. Over the past 26 to 44 years the total area
Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment, Vol.11 (2), April 2013
of 1800 glaciers in Xinjiang reduced by 11.7% 52. According to a
long-term monitoring, from 1962 to 2008, the Urumqi glacier area
had narrowed 15.6% 4. In addition, Xinjiang‘s groundwater levels
also declined totally. From 2000 to 2008, groundwater resources
decreased 18.5% by a rate of 1.47 billion m3/year 36 in the last 10
years, the groundwater level in the Weigan-Kuche Delta Oasis
went down by 1m/year 20. Since the 1970s, groundwater level
surrounding the Ebinur Lake declined 2-3 m 44. According to the
field survey, in the past five years, the average groundwater level
dropped at a speed of 6- 8 m/year in some parts of northern Xinjiang.
Sandlot: The deserts and the sandification areas in Xinjiang are
large and the environment is extreme. The increasing sandification
area and the expansion of the desert have been the overall trend
since long times. Currently, the sandification area in Xinjiang is
74.67 x 104 km2, accounting for 44.85% of the territory of Xinjiang
and 43.1% of the total sandification area of China 26. Compared
with the beginning of the 20th century, Xinxiang’s sandification
area increased 11.7 x 104 km2 35. In addition, 10 deserts and sand
lands with different sizes have been formed, of which the
Taklimakan desert and Gurbantunggut desert, respectively located
by the southern and northern side of Tianshan Mountains are the
biggest desert and sand land, with an area of 33 x 104 and 4.88 x 104
km2, respectively. In the past 2000 years, Taklimakan desert has
spread into the south area by 80 to 100 km 22. In the middle of 20th
century, the width of the Green Corridor in the lower reaches of
the Tarim River was 3 to 5 km, but in 2000, it contracted to 1 km 48.
Similar to the case of the Gurbantunggut Desert in Northern
Xinjiang in 2006, the southern edge of desertification area was
19,355 km2, expanding 973 km2 more than desertification in 1986,
with an average annual expansion of 51 km2 32. The expansion of
sandification land in Xinjiang is not only the culprit of
encroachment of oasis but also an important source of sand or
dust storms which serious impact on the surrounding ecological
Community: Since 1949, both industrialization and urbanization
in Xinjiang region were rapid, and caused the expansion of both
urban area and population. In 1949, there was just one city in
Xinjiang, which was Dihua (Urumqi) with population of 90,000.
Today, there are 2 cities, 4 municipalities directly under
autonomous region, and 15 cities under prefectures or Autonomous
Prefecture in Xinjiang. In Urumqi, the resident population is 3.11
million. The urban built-up area has been undergoing a fast growth
since 1978, which expanded 3 times in the past 30 years, to an area
of 800 km2. Community expansion and increasing population
density result in significant pressure on resources. Since 1978
until now, the daily water consumption per capita in Xinjiang urban
area has increased from 54 to 148.7 litre/day, which led to water
crisis. For example, in the summer of 2010, the daily water
consumption in Urumqi was nearly 100,000 m3 more than the number
in 2009 42. In county-level cities, there were also problems with
water, the daily water shortage in Wusu old downtown area increase
to 6000 m3 in 2010. In addition, the energy demand also continues
to increase. From 2006 to 2009, the urban citizens gas consumption
increased by 22.2% with 99.68 x 104 people in Urumqi; the amount
if city gas and natural gas consumption showed an increase of
56% and 82%, respectively. In past 20 years, the industrial electricity
consumption, coal consumption and oil consumption in Xinjiang
Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment, Vol.11 (2), April 2013
have grown 6, 1.4 and 3.8 times, respectively. Xinxiang’s annual
total energy consumption in 2008 is 4 times of that in 1990 37. Behind
the rapid industrial development, urbanization and the improved
of life quality, Xinjiang, as a big energy province of western China
is facing a huge potential consumption of natural resources as
well as increasing pressure on resources. In summary, since the
mid-20th century, disregard of the rapid social and economic
development in Xinjiang, the desertification problem tends to be
more severe at the same time. The six-dimension geographical
structures of the arable land, grassland, woodland, wetlands- water
system, sandlot and community is changing drastically, and the
main indications are as following: farmland expansion, decrease
of the cultivated land quality, grassland degradation (reduction
of grassland productivity), changes in woodland structure
(reduction of natural forests and serious water content problems
between artificial forestry, farmland and grassland), shrinkage of
wetlands, decrease of water resources, sand land expansion on
oasis, community overpopulation, resource shortages etc. In
conclusion, this phenomenon can be described as the “three ups
and three downs” trend, is the area of arable land, community
systems and sand land is up, but the area of wetlands - water
system, grasslands, and woodlands is down. The geographic
system architecture changes drastically, and results in the system
function deterioration, the ecological crisis, as the fundamental
restricting factors for the socio-economic development, is
Reasons of Analysis
Natural factors
The geographical features of Central Asia and Xinxiang’s special
geographical position intensify the desertification: Xinjiang is
located in the hinterland of the Eurasian continent, where there is
low rainfall, high evaporation, and rich in mineral and energy
resources. This region is a channel connecting between China
and the Islamic countries, which makes the religious and social
situation quite complex. Bordered by 8 countries, Xinjiang has a
relatively low population density in Central Asia, which is only
higher than the population of Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia.
In 2009, Xinjiang’s arable land area per capita and water resources
per capita were 0.19 ha/person, 3798 m3/person, respectively, which
was in the middle level in Central Asia. In the same year, the per
capita GDP is only below Russia and Kazakhstan (Table 1). Xinjiang
which is China’s border region, is always the core area
communication between inland and coastal, eastern and western
from the geography, environment, and economic aspects. In 2001,
the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was founded, of which
China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan
are members. This organization has made important progress in
strengthening regional economic, political and security contact
among these countries, and ensures a rapid development of the
regional economy. In this process, Xinjiang plays an important
role as connection point.
Harsh natural conditions change fundamentally in South, North
and East Xinjiang: Xinjiang belongs to an arid and semi-arid
area, where the overall climate is dry, the rainfall is low and the
evaporation is high. Xinjiang‘s average annual rainfall is only 190
mm that makes the region with the least precipitation in China.
The terrain in Xinjiang can be presented as “three mountains clip
Table 1. Comparison of the resources, economic indicators between Xinjiang and eight bordering countries.
The population in 2008
(ten thousand)
Population density
(person per square kilometer) (2008)
Cultivated area (2009)
The area of cultivated land per capita
(ha/person) (2009)
Per capita water resources
(m3/person) (2009)
GDP of average per capita
(US $) (2009)
Data sourcesAccording to the Xinjiang Statistical Yearbook 2010 and FAO data.
two basins”. Tianshan mountains act as an axis between southern
and Northern where the differences in climatic conditions are
obviously affected by the Arctic Ocean moist airflow, the weather
in north is cold, windy, and it has a relatively high precipitation,
while in southern, it is warmer, dusty, surrendered by the Tianshan
Mountains, which has very little rainfall. The ecological landscape
in Southern and Northern Xinjiang also shows big differences. In
the Southern border, the desert oasis and irrigated farmland are
important natural landscapes; in the Northern part, there are
abundance of pastures and simultaneously developed agriculture
and animal husbandry. In addition, the areas of Turpan and Hami
are called eastern Xinjiang where has both southern and northern
climatic characteristics, but the overall natural condition is not so
optimistic. Turpan Basin is quite drought, which belongs to the
continental warm desert climate. Hami area has more sand, and
the climate is also dry, the day-night temperature difference is
large, belonging to the semi-arid continental climate. The natural
conditions in Xinjiang vary in different regions, and also help to
form different types of desertification.
phenomenon, and it is very easy to trigger large-scale
desertification disaster in the case of human incentives 9, 39.
Human factors
Large area of cultivated land and diverted water driven by
Agricultural development are the first factors leading to
desertification: Since the ancient times, Xinjiang is the main land
of military cultivation. After 1949, the Xinjiang Production and
Construction Corps started to reclaim and cultivate lands, and
made a great contribution to the country’s border stability, as well
as supported Mainland socio-economic construction. For nearly
30 years, along with the reform and opening up, with the advantage
of more per capita resources, Xinjiang has gradually developed to
China’s important production base of grain, cotton, fruit, and
vegetables. Compared with 1978, in 2009, the grain, oilseeds,
cotton, potato, vegetable production growth in Xinjiang increased
to 311%, 619%, 4589%, 550% and 1519%, respectively, which were
higher than the national growth level, and accounting for increasing
proportion of relevant indicators in nationwide, especially the
grain and cotton, vegetable production growing rapidly (Table 2).
Behind the leaping development, expansion of arable land, ruined
pastures and wet wasteland, deforestation, intensified water stress
are occurred. The arable land which is artificial intervened by
human factors in geographic system, and become the first factor
to influence other systems and the resident lifestyle.
Owing to the recent global warming, the adverse situation of
natural conditions in Xinjiang is exacerbating: Higher
temperature is also an important contributing factor for drought
and desertification. In recent 100 years, the global temperature
has been rising, especially since 1970s 49. Under this trend, from
1951 to 2005, China’s average temperature increased 0.25°C/10 a 5.
Development of urbanization and industrialization is the basic
From 1951 to 2006, the overall temperature in Xinjiang region was
cause of desertification in Xinjiang since 1949: Since 1949, the
rising 13. From 1955 to 2000, the average temperature growth rate
Xinjiang population was in an increasing trend. In 2009, the
of the southern Xinjiang was 0.127°C/10 a; over the same period,
population is 21.5863 million, which increased by nearly 4 times
the northern warming rate was 0.36 °C/10 a; from 1961 to 2006, the
compared with 1949. At the same time, the development of
warming rate in Balikun, Yiwu and Hami area in the eastern part
urbanization is also rapid, the ratio of rural and urban population
were 0.614°C/10 a, 0.303°C/10 a and 0.13°C/10 a, respectively. In
in the last 60 years developed from 87.8:12.2 to 40:60. The
1949, individual districts in northern, eastern Xinjiang temperature
changed significantly, which was
higher than the national and world
Table 2. Xinjiang’,s socio-economic development in the country’s position during 1949-2009.
level, that shows a strong warming
Percentage in C
trend. The warming process in the
southern part is relatively slower,
84.77 370.01
0.75% 1.21% 1.75% 2.17%
but facing a higher temperature in
63.91 1.12% 1.98% 2.04% 2.03%
Production of
the winter than usual time 39, 41, 46.
126.06 0.11% 0.72% 1.74% 4.21%
main crops
At the same time, Xinjiang
vegetable 69.79
(1000 tons)
showed a volatility trend of the
2.54% 33.96% 39.58%
increased rainfall which is uneven.
Industrial production
33.91 1061.29 4184.5
0.80% 1.24% 0.76%
The weather change increases the
(10 million Yuan)
Data sources according to the Xinjiang Statistical Yearbook 2010
; 50 years of Xinjiang :1945-2005 ; China Statistical Yearbook 2010 ; 60 years
occurrence of floods, droughts,
of Agricultural Statistics in China . China Statistical Yearbook 1996 . China Statistical Yearbook 2000 ; Strategy for Agricultural Research and Regional
storms and other extreme weather
Agricultural Rational Allocation of Resources: Integrated Environmental Management and Coordinated Regional Development ; 2008 China Economic
36, 37
Census Yearbook 25.
Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment, Vol.11 (2), April 2013
population growth, especially the urban population increase led
to unprecedented demand for resources. Urbanization paralleled
with industrialization causes severe changes in the production
structure. The proportion of the first, second and tertiary industries
in GDP changed from 64.7:22:13.3 in 1952 to 17.8:45.1:37.1 in 2009.
Agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, fisheries were shrinking,
while industry, construction, transportation and service industries
underwent a substantial increase. From 1949 to 2009, industrial
output value increased by 122.4 times, moreover industrial
production expansion has the most significant impact on
environment 36, 37, 47. According to a survey of the 2710 mining
enterprises in Xinjiang, mining have already damaged 90,734 ha
of land in which farmland, woodland, grassland accounted for
40%, sand land accounted for 60% 9. From 2002 to 2006, the
industrial waste water, solid waste emissions, industrial emissions
in Xinjiang were increasing with 4%, 15.8%, 25% per year,
respectively 18. The intense industrialization development
associated with urban sprawl, which makes the rural and pastoral
areas to shrink accordingly and the changes in life and production
structure. It is becoming the basic parameter which affects the
ecological environment in Xinjiang.
There are significant gap between the Xinjiang Production and
Construction Corps and the local, as well as the low overall
technological standard, which have brought underlying risk of
environmental damage: Xinjiang is in Northwest of China, where
a gradient difference in technology and information level with the
southeast coastal areas exists, and the production is mainly
extensive because of the relatively backward technology.
Comparatively speaking, the scientific and technological level of
construction corps is higher than the local agricultural areas whose
level is also higher than in pastoral areas. In 2009, the population
in Xinjiang Corps accounted for only 11.9% of the total population,
but created 27.5% of the output of agriculture, forestry, animal
husbandry and fishery. The effective irrigation system area in the
corps area is close to 100%, while it is 77% in the local. The
popularization of water-saving irrigation methods such as drip
irrigation, sprinkler irrigation are more than 90% in the Corps area,
compared to 20% to 30% in the local. The crop yields and the
agricultural facilities utilization rate in the Corps area are also higher
than local. For example, in 2009, the cotton lint yield in the Corps
overrun the local by 180 kg/ha, and the agricultural machinery
power in the Corps is 3.44 times of the local 36, 37. Compared to
agricultural areas, the production technology in the pastoral areas
has been improved over the years, and the construction progress
also quite small. In the area of industrial and urban construction,
some enterprises from the inner part of China transferred the lowtech industries with high pollution and high energy-consumption
to Xinjiang because of the low-cost opportunity in the name of
structural adjustment. This becomes an important factor, affecting
the local environmental, social and economical construction;
which also restricts the efficiency of resource utilization.
The basic reasons of the problem are the imperfect local resource
management system and the imperfect mechanism: Economic
benefit is the basic drive power in the recent economic development
in the western region. Local administrations tend to increase
regional benefits and achievements, even without adequate
environmental planning, they Laissez-faire a large number of
Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment, Vol.11 (2), April 2013
foreign capital and enterprises to state into Xinjiang, and carry
out the decrease in restrictions for the use of land resources,
promote the development of mining, heavy industry, which
frequently result in damage to the environment. The basic reasons
of such problems are: careless omission on the division of resource
management by government, the ambiguous tasks between the
upper and lower levels, imperfect coordination mechanism, and
low operational efficiency, all of these cannot meet the needs of
the developing reality.
A new round of economic construction is likely to become a
potential to exacerbate desertification motivation: According
to the Xinjiang “12th Five-Year Plan “, from 2010 to 2015, the region’s
average annual GDP growth will increase more than 10%, and the
total investment in the industry and energy part will reach 150
billion Yuan. Deepen the industrialization in industrial restructuring;
the average annual industrial added value will increase by more
than 17%, urbanization level will be raised to 48%. The energy
industry will be the focus of future construction. In the coming10
years, Turpan area plans to attract 250 billion Yuan to the
investment of energy industry 28. In view of the fragile ecological
environment in Xinjiang, the current six-dimension geographical
constructions will have been met resources and environmental
shortages; it cannot bear the burden of industrial and agricultural
development, so a higher science and technology are required
even in the same level of industrial development compare with
previous situations. Even a mistake may worsen desertification in
Xinjiang. In this regard, we should remain sober-minded.
Proposal to the Construction of Combating Desertification in
Combating desertification from a strategic perspective: The
reasons of desertification in Xinjiang are complex, and the outbreak
of desertification lasts for a long period of time, which causes a
serious result to local development. Furthermore, people‘s
awareness of desertification is still at a low level. All of these
issues aforesaid are the basic reasons for the long wanton
spreading of desertification. Xinxiang’s natural geographic system
is relatively fragile, the desertification shows a trend of whole out
breaking. Now Xinjiang is facing the global climate change and a
new situation of western development, it is in an important
strategic position of international exchanges. All of those make
the issue of combating desertification have a major strategic
impact on Xinxiang’s healthy socio-economic development. Only
a thorough desertification combating can ensure the orderly
development of every sector in Xinjiang. Because the problem of
desertification covers a wide range of issues, we need pay
attention to mobilize the community to clearly understand and
grasp the real situation of desert, so as to create a favorable
atmosphere for the whole society to combat desertification.
Consider the characteristics in South, North and East of
Xinjiang; take a prevention-treatment approach: Due to
differences in natural conditions and the composite effect of natural
and social factors, the desertification situations in South, North
and, East of Xinjiang are different. The natural condition in the
southern part of Xinjiang is relatively poor, the desertification
mainly consists of an oasis, wetland-water system, environment
changes and takes the vicious desertification as a basic form. So
the basic task for the future is the governance controlling of
desertified land. In history, the northern part of Xinjiang was
mainly nomadic since 1949, people have been cultivated arable
land along rivers, wetlands and watersheds. Especially in last 30
years, since 1978, the implementation of the grassland and livestock
contracting system has been introduced into that region. These
phenomena also brought in side-effects such as: Oasis agricultural
salinization, desertification, wetlands-water system variation,
grassland degradation and grazing livestock industry weakness.
Desertification is still growing. The future key task is to take the
parallel approach of prevention and treatment. Eastern part of
Xinjiang is the eastern portal of this province, and an ancient Silk
Road city where the human civilization has a far-reaching impact
on the natural environment. The desertification is a historic
problem. Take into consideration the poor natural conditions, dry
and windy weather, we should focus on the governance of wind
erosion, wetlands - water systems desertification which are caused
by human activities.
Guide the construction in accordance with the engineering
theory of combating desertification: Contemporary
desertification problem is mainly caused by human activities
and to some extent by natural factors. Therefore, we should
mobilize all members of society in various ethnic groups to be
involved in batches levels, make them understand the mechanism
of desertification, and implement a proactive policy to combat
desertification. According to the engineering theory of combating
desertification, in the horizontal direction, the object task of
desertification control can be broken down into six types of the
areas: desertification of arable land, grassland desertification,
forest land desertification, wetlands-water system desertification,
sand land desertification and community desertification. In
accordance with the natural, social attributes of the prevention
objects, the object task of desertification control can be
decomposed into following eight targets land and water resources
protection, regional vegetation and biological resource protection,
regional infrastructure protection (rail, road, living facilities, etc.),
regional energy system protection, regional economy construction
and protection, regional human resources construction and
protection, regional cultural construction protection and regional
community construction. In order to complete the systematic task
of prevention and control, we need to mobilize the social forces,
coordinate the production and living system, science and
education system, management system with specific division of
labor, and hierarchical sub-sector prevention task.
Active collaboration with the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization to combat desertification: Most of Xinjiang’s
neighbor countries are members of the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization, such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and
Turkmenistan. The problem of desertification in these countries
is also very severe. From the 1950s to the 1980s, a large area in
these regions suffered from huge land reclamation, which caused
severe ecological crisis in the Aral Sea, as well as shrinkage of
large area of the wetlands. This bitter experience brought
destruction to central Asia. In addition, there are different forms
of the desertification problems in Pakistan, India, Mongolia and
other countries as well. There are Many ethnic groups in this
region, and the historical origins of the political culture produce
complex interactions between countries, so in the process of
construction projects to combat desertification in Xinjiang, all
mentioned countries have to create conditions to cooperate with
Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states, and
strengthen communication and cooperation with other neighbors,
coordinate governance and prevention, based on the regional
social and natural features.
Concern about the interests of the local population, coordinate
the relationship between the state, enterprises and the interests
of the local people: The ethnic composition in Xinjiang is
complicated, and the structure of the social, political civilization is
good. The interests relation between the state and local, enterprise
and the public are so complicated, the management and
construction requirements is high. Combating desertification is a
strategic movement for the country. Nonetheless, we will face the
adjustment of the interests. In this process, China need careful
study and analyze every piece of work and the relationship
between the interests of every parties, and the government should
pay particular attention to the protection of the basic interests of
the local population, and handle correctly the interests relations
among states, local governments, enterprises and peopleas well
as the short, medium and long-term arrangements of the interests
of all parties. By these solid works, Xinjiang can strive to create a
great national unity and common prosperity and achieve the
development with harmony.
Rely on science and technology whole-heartedly: The world has
entered the era of science and technology. Human society will
eventually need to rely on scientific and technological strength,
in order to complete the task of combating desertification.
Therefore, we need to take science and technology in an important
position, make it the basic way of analyzing, understanding and
combating desertification. Compared with the requirements of
combating desertification, the current level of science and
technology in Xinjiang cannot meet the needs, so the government
should make efforts to make the masses to transfer to the scientific
development on the basis of science and technology. Moreover,
government should also make good use of the advantages of
construction corps in Xinjiang, promote local technological
development, put emphasis on science and technology
popularization in agricultural and pastoral areas, and transfer
the development mode from extensive one to an intensive
industrialized one. In a co-operative direction, the autonomous
regions should also make great efforts to train personnel, and
learn from the local experience, combine foreign technology with
the actual needs, and achieve technological innovation, to promote
the ethnic regional socio-economic development and national
environment construction.
This research was supported by the China National Key Basic
Research Program (2013CB429901),the National Natural Science
Foundation of China (41171400),the project of Japan Society for
the Promotion of Science(21402017) and the major project of the
National Social Science Fund(09ZD010).
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