BEIJING, June 16 (Xinhua) -- China's State Forestry Administration (SFA) has pledged to fight desertification as the country faces a tough battle against encroaching sands.
SFA deputy head Zhang Yongli told Xinhua that China has 1.73 million square kilometers (1.73 billion hectares) of land is classified as undergoing desertification, forming a long stretch in the north that suffers from constant winds and blowing sands.
Desertification has affected more than 400 million people, according to Zhang.
To ease the problem, China will strengthen environmental protection to strictly ban improper activities such as excessive reclamation and grazing, while stepping up law enforcement in the sector, Zhang said.
In addition, China will study ways to increase government input, and offer subsidies and financial support to jointly fight the battle against desertification.
The pledged policies came ahead of the World Day to Combat Desertification, which falls on Wednesday.
Zhang said the battle against desertification is an important part of China's ongoing drive for eco-friendly development. For the past five years, China has treated 10 million hectares of desertified land.
According to a guideline on improving the country's environment released last month, China has vowed to improve conditions on more than 50 percent of treatable desertified land by 2020.