Beijing: More than 500 scholars, entrepreneurs and officials from all over the world are expected to meet in China next month to discuss the prevention of "desertification" or desert formation.
Desertification is defined as the rapid depletion of plant life and loss of topsoil at desert boundaries and in semi-arid regions, usually caused by a combination of drought and overexploitation of grasses and other vegetation by people.
According to experts, desertified areas around the globe expand by about 50,000 to 70,000 square km every year. Desertified areas now total 38 million square km, or one-fourth of the Earth`s total land area, Xinhua reports.
"Desertification has become a global issue, threatening more than one billion people in 110 countries and leading to annual economic losses worth $42 billion," said Wang Wenbiao, secretary-general of the Kubuqi International Desert Forum.
The forum meeting would be held July 8-10 at a scenic location in the Kubuqi desert in north China`s Inner Mongolia region.
Kubuqi is one of China`s largest deserts, said Wang.
Attendees would include officials from the Chinese government, representatives from the UN and other international organisations as well as experts, academics and entrepreneurs, he said.
The forum would offer a platform for experts to share ideas concerning innovation on how to prevent desertification and climate change. They would also discuss how tourism is being affected by desertification.
China is highly vulnerable to desertification. About one-third of the total land area is already desertified, according to the country`s forest authorities.