Mechanism of Rocky Desertification in the Karst Mountain Areas of Guizhou Province, Southwest China

In International Review for Environmental Strategies (IRES) Volume 3 Number 1(Summer 2002)
Peer-reviewed Article

The development of rocky desertification, the main form of land desertification in the karst mountain areas of southwest China, is accelerating and has become one of the most serious environmental, social, and economic problems facing the province of Guizhou, especially. The problem is mainly the result of interactions between human activities, exacerbated by a population explosion and existing eco-geo-environmental settings, made especially vulnerable by various endogenic processes over the area's geological history which constrain the characteristics of the surface rocks and geomorphic features. Pure carbonate rock accounts for 44.66 percent of the total province, providing an abundant material basis for rocky desertification. As well, a high proportion of sloping fields offer abundant potential energy for water erosion. The external disturbances are mostly the result of rapid population growth, poverty, human activities, and unstable social factors, which trigger and accelerate the development of rocky desertification. When external disturbances by society exceed the limit of karst capacity, as it has in this region, the eco-geo-environment degenerates, followed by rocky desertification-the final result of a vicious cycle of poverty and environmental deterioration. The most practical solution is to return the farmland to forests and launch a program of poverty alleviation. The central government should offer substantial financial subsidies and formulate preferential policies for economic development in the karst mountain areas. Otherwise, the local farmers will never be able to shake off the yoke of poverty and problems of environmental degradation and rocky desertification will continue to grow.

Remarks:

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Author:
Wang Shijie
Dianfa Zhang
Li Ruiling
Date: