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close this bookFreshwater Resources in Arid Lands (UNU, 1997, 94 p.)
close this folder4: Water resources and agricultural environment in arid regions of China
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentWater resources
View the documentWater utilization and agricultural environment
View the documentImproving water management for sustainable agricultural development
View the documentConclusions
View the documentReferences


Water is one of the most challenging current and future natural resources issues in the arid regions of China. For sustainable agricultural development and, hence, economic growth and society's progress, water is the key to success. Although there are vast wastelands and light and heat resources, the local economy depends only on irrigated agriculture and animal husbandry because of the water limitations. In the arid regions of China, water utilization has a long history and human activities in water management have improved the agricultural environment to be favourable for subsistence and development on a large scale. Along with the construction of reservoirs, irrigation and drainage systems, and other water-conservation facilities, the old oases have been expanded and new oases and artificial woodland and range land have been created. These have brought about great advances in agricultural production. But, owing to increased human requirements and overused and misused water resources, agro-environmental degradation, such as salinization, vegetation degeneration, and sandy desertification, has been caused and spread quickly. The existing water resources are already under great pressure from agriculture, and will face a much more difficult situation in the future. However, some typical examples have proved that agricultural development could be sustained if water management was improved. But how to conduct sound water management is still the most important question for sustainable development when we face agriculture that is limited by water.