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Human activity is severely degrading the natural environment in China’s western provinces, according to a report by the State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) released last month.

Mining, farming and overgrazing in marginal areas are leaving the land barren, eroded and prone to flooding, says the report, which was prepared in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

China is keen to develop its western areas to narrow the widening gap between the underdeveloped west and the advanced east. But officials from SEPA warn that the region could lose more than it gains if environmental degradation persists.

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