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Russia: More Territory Of Russia And Central Asia Becoming Desert

Moscow, 19 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - A Russian environmental group said today that more than half of the land in Central Asian countries has become barren as a result of desertification (eds: expanding of deserts) and warned the problem now threatens Russia.

The press service of the Moscow-based non-governmental Socio-Ecological Union says that increasing population and environmentally unsound industrial policy were mainly to blame for the problem.

The group said that in Russia, up to 50,000 hectares of arable land are lost annually as a result of erosion. They said more than 80,000 square kilometers of Russian territory had become arid over a wide belt running across the southern region of the country.

The group says the Russian government has not yet addressed the problem.