China: Erosion

The Loess Plateau covers some 640,000 square kilometers in northwest China and has among the world's highest soil erosion rates. Characteristic powdery dry soil (called loess) and centuries of unsustainable farming practices, combined with huge population pressures, have led to severe environmental degradation. Roughly 1.6 billion tons of sediment clog the Yellow River annually and pose a serious downstream flood risk. In recent years, however, the discontinuation of farming on steep slopes and the establishment of large-scale terracing and sediment control structures have made significant strides in staving off further erosion.

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