Beijing moved to centralise control of natural resources yesterday with the formal establishment of the Ministry of State Land Resources.
At the opening ceremony, its minister, Zhou Yongkang, said the move represented an important change in resource management.
He said the administration of natural resources would now be concentrated in fewer hands.
Under the government reform, the ministry will combine the functions of the former ministry of geology and mineral resources and the state bureaus of land administration, state oceanography and surveying and cartography.
He said population, resources and environment presented common problems for many countries around the world.
'Better management of state land resources is strategically important to sustain the continuous development of the economy,' Mr Zhou said.
He said resources could not keep up with demand if both the economy continued to grow at a relatively high speed and the population increased.
Mr Zhou said the mainland had abundant land and mine resources, but that its huge population meant that the land-to-people ratio was less than half the world average.
He also pointed out that China was still very much under-utilising its ocean resources.
The ministry is one of the four newly formed ministries in the Cabinet.