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Desertification worsening in Tibet: Report
Phayul[Thursday, June 18, 2009 17:01]
By Phurbu Thinley

Dharamsala, June 18: Desertification is worsening in Tibet, a Chinese state-run news agency reported Wednesday.

File photo shows a Tibetan yak grazing in the desert near the Karo-La pass. Authorities aim to halt the spread of the desert in the Chinese occupied Tibet by next year, hoping to stem the effects of years of mining, tree-felling and overgrazing, Chinese state media said. (Photo: AFP/File/Peter Parks)
File photo shows a Tibetan yak grazing in the desert near the Karo-La pass. Authorities aim to halt the spread of the desert in the Chinese occupied Tibet by next year, hoping to stem the effects of years of mining, tree-felling and overgrazing, Chinese state media said. (Photo: AFP/File/Peter Parks)
Desertification is spreading by 39,600 hectares (98,000 acres) annually in Tibet, Sangey Drawa, an official at the regional forestry bureau was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency.

The report said the "desertified land" currently covered 21.7 million hectares in Tibet.

According to the report, authorities in Tibet aim to halt the spread of the desert by next year, hoping to stem the effects of years of mining, tree-felling and overgrazing.

"By 2010, we hope to achieve zero growth in deserts and by 2020,half of the desertified land that can still be reversed, will be fixed," Sangey said.

Sangye said Tibetan authorities were trying to to curb the spread with afforestation programmes and by closing some grasslands to herders.

Chinese occupied Tibet is not the only region to suffer from the problem -- the capital Beijing is plagued with regular sandstorms that scientists say are caused by desertification in the northern part of the country.

The report titled- “Desertification worsening in Tibet, regional forestry official says” that appeared on the Xinhua website was later blocked for unspecified reason. However, the report can still be viewed on other state-run news sites.

Earlier this month, a standoff over a planned Chinese gold mine in Tibet’s Markham county in Chamdo Prefecture was forced to be resolved in favour of local Tibetans after staging protests for weeks.

The dispute occurred over operations of the mine set up by a Chinese firm at Ser Ngol Lo (Year of gold and silver), a mountain considered sacred by Tibetans. Tibetan protesters were facing armed Chinese security forces at the site, where Chinese mining and Lumbering firm, Zhongkai Co, had been authorized to excavate.

However, both sides reportedly agreed on June 8 that the mine would stop operations, and the Chinese government has reportedly offered to clean the whole area.
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