Important message: Due to recent site outage we are still restoring full functionality to Authorea powered sites. Please bear with us until full functionality is restored

loading page

Desertification and its control along the route of China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”: A critical review
  • +1
  • Pengfei Li,
  • Yuzhe Zang ,
  • Faith Ka Shun Chan,
  • Juanle Wang
Pengfei Li
Xi’an University of Science and Technology

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Yuzhe Zang
Xi’an University of Science and Technology
Author Profile
Faith Ka Shun Chan
University of Nottingham Ningbo China Faculty of Science and Engineering
Author Profile
Juanle Wang
Chinese Acad Sci
Author Profile


The “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) was anticipated in 2013 to promote socio-economic development and cooperation across countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and worldwide. Rapid land-use changes and infrastructure developments driven by the BRI program are expected in the coming decades. These anthropogenic effects are likely to exaggerate the process of de-vegetation, deforestation, accelerating desertification, which is one of the major threats to the BRI region. This manuscript studied the desertification facts (i.e. spatiotemporal pattern, impacts and impacting factors) and investigated key aspects for desertification control (i.e. mitigation and evaluation methods) in the BRI countries via an extensive review of literature. We found that desertification has been prevalent in the BRI countries, predominantly in C Asia, but quantitative assessment of desertification is yet fully understood. This review illustrated that desertification was driven by climatic dryness and mis-land-use/management activities, but their relative importance has yet been (quantitatively) assessed along the BRI countries. Given the negative impacts of desertification, these BRI countries have ratified the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to reduce negative impacts. The implementation of desertification mitigation programmes are currently still lacking. We argued that desertification is usually evaluated via four type of approaches, including quantitative approaches, indirect detection, direct observation and biophysical measurement (e.g. vegetation growth). Future research should be applied by considering the research scope and data availability. Overall, we conclude that BRI countries should carry out transboundary control on desertification. Otherwise, this issue is likely to extend further imminent developments under the foremost BRI program.
14 Aug 2020Submitted to Land Degradation & Development
19 Aug 2020Submission Checks Completed
19 Aug 2020Assigned to Editor
24 Aug 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
06 Oct 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
12 Oct 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor