Compared with countries similar in land area or topography to China, China has less arable land. The proportion of arable land in the country’s total land area is only 10% in China, 20% in the United States, 12% in mountainous Japan, and 56% in India. The rate of decrease in cultivated land in China is 2 times higher than that in other countries.
In the seven years from 1996 to 2003, China’s cultivated land area has decreased from 1.95 billion mu to 1.85 billion mu, a decrease of 100 million mu in seven years, and an average annual decrease of about 14,297 mu, which is more than the cultivated land of the two Hainan provinces. China’s per capita arable land is only 1.43 mu, less than 40% of the world average. In 2003, in 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities in my country, there were already 6 areas where per capita arable land was below the warning line of 0.8 mu. According to the total amount of cotton, cereals and soybeans imported by China in 2006, if they were all produced domestically, 200 million mu of land would need to be occupied, while China has only 31 million mu of arable land. Another problem coexisting with this is that due to the extensive use of chemical fertilizers and pollution, the quality of the existing cultivated land is declining year by year, and the reserve resources of cultivated land are seriously insufficient.
There are also research reports that with the improvement of affluence, the Chinese people’s dietary focus has begun to shift from rice noodles to meat, which requires a lot of feed. At present, China’s per capita meat consumption level is about 50% of that of the United States. If it reaches the level of the United States, it will require an additional 277 million tons of feed grain and 68 million acres (1 acre – 4046.8 square meters) of arable land. Although there are still different opinions on the safety of genetically modified foods, there are endless debates. However, under the pressure of dwindling land resources and the increasing demand of a huge population, many people of insight have come to a conclusion. Accepting genetically modified food is the general trend, and China will sooner or later accept it and become the largest country in the world to promote genetically modified food.
China’s forest resources are the most scarce, with a forest coverage rate of 18.21%, only 61.3% of the world average; the forest stock volume per unit area is only 84.8% of the world average level, and China’s per capita forest area and volume are only 134th and 122nd in the world. The contradiction between supply and demand of forest products in China is still prominent.
The consumption of forest resources in China is very serious: First, the illegal loss of forest land is serious. In the five years from 199 to 2003, 10,106,800 hectares of forest land in the country were changed; second, the same problem of excessive logging of trees is prominent. In the five years from 1999 to 2003, the national average annual amount of logging exceeding the quota was as high as 75.5421 million cubic meters. At present, China’s timber gap is about 95.78 million cubic meters.
The sharp increase in the demand for paper is one of the reasons for the growth of wood consumption. The massive consumption of paper not only causes the destruction of forests, but also causes serious pollution of rivers and lakes due to the discharge of sewage from pulp production (Water pollution caused by China’s paper industry accounts for more than 30% of the pollution in the entire water city).
Read more: Environmental resistance to sustainable development