China mountain removal plans are risky

China’s campaign to bulldoze mountains to build cities could cause extensive environmental damage, warn scientists. The government should collaborate with national and international experts to properly assess the risks before continuing.

In a paper published this week in the journal Nature, the three scientists from Chang’an University criticise the government’s plan to level 700 mountains to create more than 250 square kilometres of flat land on which to build cities. Peiyue Li, Hui Qian and Jianhua Wu argue that the plans have not been properly considered “environmentally, technically or economically.”

The land-creation projects are already causing air and water pollution, soil erosion, landslides and flooding, according to the scientists. They also challenge the assumption that land creation brings economic benefits; infill areas often cannot be built on for at least a decade until the ground base becomes stable, which could dissuade investors from buying land.

The scientists want the government to conduct thorough environmental impact reports by working with scientists and engineers from the United States, Canada and Europe who have experience with mountain removal and land creation. Economists should also be consulted to assess the costs and benefits of these projects. They write: “Where there is no profit, governments should be dissuaded from going ahead.”


Photo credit: JosEnrique/Creative Commons

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