China: Spread of deserts has slowed

Beijing says it has made progress in slowing the loss of land to deserts, but warned that it could take hundreds of years to reclaim areas already swallowed by desertification.

The amount of land claimed by deserts and shifting sands has decreased overall between 2005 and 2009. China has lost about 660,000 squares miles of land to deserts, a forestry official said. A little more than a third of that can be reclaimed, but at the current slow rate of progress, "it will take 300 years to restore the land that can be treated", the official said.