Serious Erosion in Yellow River Basin

According to a recent report by the Yellow River Conservancy Commission, 62% of the river’s basin is severely affected by water and soil erosion. From Businessweek:

The study … says the affected area covers 180,000 square miles (465,000 square kilometers), the China Daily reported Wednesday….

The report says that careful management strategies by authorities prevented some 350 million to 450 million tons of mud and sand from flowing into the river annually, but better environmental protection measures are still needed ….

Economic losses caused by the soil and water erosion accounted for some 3.5 percent of the country’s annual GDP, according to research by the Asian Development Bank, the paper said.

The Yellow River’s fortunes have fluctuated in recent years. In the 1990s, it would famously fail to reach the sea; last year, however, the YRCC won the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize for river management:

Yellow River Conservancy Commission (YRCC) is awarded the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize for its outstanding accomplishments in integrated river basin management that is unrivalled in scale. YRCC’s innovative policies and solutions have brought about widespread and sustainable social, economic and environmental benefits. In just 10 years, the remarkable transformation of China’s second longest river by YRCC has secured water supply for over one hundred million people, restored extensive areas of wetlands and biodiversity and protected some 90 million people living in the flood-prone areas of the Yellow River from devastating floods.

These achievements also secured a nomination for the 2010 Thiess International Riverprize, ultimately awarded to the UK’s River Thames. Encouragement can be found in even in that defeat: the Thames was declared “biologically dead” in the 1950s, and its victory demonstrates the river’s capacity to rebound from human impact.

January 17, 2011 5:38 PM
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