Lucid waters, lush mountains yield economic benefits in rural China

Wang Hao, People’s Daily
The agritainment business of Wang Wenlie, a villager from Hefeng county, central China’s Hubei province is picking up as flocks of tourists come to visit Jiulianshan Mountain, a scenic spot near his home in early summer, the best time for sightseeing of the year.
By implementing the “grain for green” strategy and protecting the “green asset” of the Jiulianshan Mountain, Hefeng county is creating huge benefits for its people from the sound ecological environment.
According to statistics, 75.9 percent of the land in the county is covered by forests, and the value produced by tea, herbal medicine and tourism industries there has exceeded 3 billion yuan.
China is aiming to achieve ecological conservation and poverty alleviation simultaneously. For instance, Changning county in southwest China’s Yunnan province plans to return 4,000 hectares of farmlands to forests, a move which is about to benefit 7,503 rural households. It also plans to plant 57,860 hectares of public welfare forests and pay forest ecological compensation totaling 20.34 million yuan. There are many other places like Changning in China which are both poverty-stricken and ecologically vulnerable.
In recent years, China has released a package of favorable policies to share the ecological dividends with impoverished residents. Under the new “grain for green” policies, farmers can receive 1,200 yuan and 850 yuan, respectively for turning each 0.066 hectares of farmlands to forests and grasslands.
Since 2016, China has carried out major ecological conservation projects in 22 central and western provinces and allocated more than 150 billion yuan to support the projects.
Lucid waters and lush mountains are both natural and economic assets. To increase income for the impoverished in the long run and help them remain free of poverty, local governments across the country are making huge endeavor to develop green industries according to local conditions.
Shiyan, Hubei province is a core water source area of China’s South-to-North Water Diversion Project. Of the 12 main tributaries converging on the Danjiangkou Reservoir, 10 pass through Shiyan and are all tributaries of Hanjiang River, a major tributary of the Yangtze River.
“The green mountains and clear waters are the most valuable resources of our village. We’ve planted 33.33 hectares of persimmon trees to maintain water and soil and promote intercropping,” said Han Xiaohu, first secretary of Luoyan village, Yunyang district, Shiyan.
“My village is rich in negative oxygen ions and we feed the chickens with worms and spring water. As a result, our chickens are welcomed by the market and have gained reputation. The price is three times more than that of ordinary chickens,” said Xu.
Native chickens, black pigs and vegetables,hidden deep in the mountains in the past, are now served on the dinner tables of more consumers, said Song Kang, the village’s first secretary.

The green and healthy agricultural products have seen their prices rising significantly. Statistics show that the output value of the forestry sector in 22 provinces in central and western China has reached 4.26 trillion yuan, and 7,586 villages have been identified as national forest villages. In addition, about 1.1 million registered impoverished people saw their annual family income increase by an average of 3,500 yuan each year relying on forest tourism.

Ecological poverty alleviation has helped 3 million impoverished people get rid of poverty and increase their income. At present, the coverage of forests and grasslands in poverty-stricken areas is expanding continuously; desertification and soil erosion are controlled; and the forest coverage rate of China has been increasing by 4 percentage points on average.
“Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets. Departments at all levels must make greater efforts to coordinate ecological protection and poverty alleviation with greater determination and strength, and make new and greater contributions to securing a decisive victory in poverty alleviation,” said Zhang Jianlong, director of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

Photo taken on May 16 shows the Pan’an Lake wetland park in Xuzhou of east China’s Jiangsu province. The park was built on the land that once had been scarred by collapsed coal mines. Sun Jingxian, People’s Daily Online

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