Mud Buries a County Devoid of Trees and Plans

An article in Caixin looks at the role 50 years ago played in the recent devastating mudslide in Zhouqu, Gansu:

Many scholars and local officials think deforestation and other manmade conditions played a significant role in the horrific mudslides that devastated this section of southern Gansu Province in early August.

More than 1,000 people died in the disaster, which started when torrential rains triggered floods and mudflows, burying more than two-thirds of the county’s land, including an entire village.

One forestry bureau source who asked not to be named said he primarily blames heavy, poorly planned logging during the 1950s and 1960s for Zhouqu’s tragic transformation from lush forest to virtual wasteland.

Large swathes of forest on the banks of the Bailong were wiped out by lumberjacks, who shipped logs down river to distant markets.

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