Edited by Jeff Bennett, Xuehong Wang and Lei Zhang
Xuehong Wang, Hongyun Han and Jeff Bennett INTRODUCTION China accounts for 22 per cent of the world’s population but has only 7 per cent of the world’s arable land. Hence, despite its large land area, China has a relatively low resource base per capita. In 1989, the quantity of fresh water, cropland, forest and grassland per capita in China were 28.1, 32.3, 14.3 and 32.3 per cent of the world’s averages respectively (PRC 1994a). In contrast, mountainous terrain accounts for about two-thirds of the country’s total territory (Huang 2000). The combination of resource endowment and population implies resourceuse pressure, particularly in a country where self-sufﬁciency in agricultural production has been an expressed government policy objective. With growing evidence emerging that resource-use pressure is causing land and water degradation, more and more attention is being given to the ways in which natural resources are being managed. In this chapter, the focus is on land-use management in China. In the next section, the current state of the Chinese land resources is brieﬂy described. Section 3 provides an overview of land and water resource degradation with an emphasis given to North China. The consequences of land and water resource degradation are also outlined in this section. In Section 4, some of the causes that can be linked to the degradation of the land resource are discussed. Section 5 features the Chinese government’s responses in tackling the problem of land degradation and land-use policy initiatives introduced by the government. Whilst it is...
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