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GEO Year Book 2003  
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Land degradation

Many Asian countries, including India, China, Afghanistan, and Mongolia, are facing the challenges of desertification. This process, caused by overgrazing, overploughing and vegetation removal, is intensifying as human and livestock numbers continue to increase.
In China, approximately 2 674 000 km2 – which represents 27.9 per cent of the total land area – is affected by desertification. It is estimated that one-third of China’s population is threatened by desertification, mainly in northwestern, northern and northeastern parts of the country, and that the annual direct economic loss this causes is approximately US$6 500 million (UNCCD 2003a).
In June 2003, environment ministers from 30 countries in Asia and the Pacific signed an accord on implementing the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to address this issue and called for a global effort to fight the problem. The Abu Dhabi Declaration for the Implementation of the UNCCD urges innovative approaches in fighting desertification and developing long-term strategies to promote sustainable land management. Specific measures include investigating the causes of desertification, establishing a network for information sharing, implementing control measures, and strengthening agricultural productivity through sustainable land management. Countries are also urged to pass relevant national action programmes (UNWire 2003, UNCCD 2003b).

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