Over 20,000 forest rangers in E China’s Jiangxi province shake off poverty

By Dai Linfeng, People’s Daily
Fang Youhong is a forest ranger of a fire prevention team of Jinhu township, Gongqingcheng of east China’s Jiangxi province. He patrols in the mountains every day, covering as much as over 15 kilometers on a daily basis in his rubber boots, with a tin pot and an extinguishing mop.
There are 21,500 forest rangers in Jiangxi province, who sticks to the frontline of forest fire prevention like Fang does. Making arduous efforts to safeguard the lucid water and lush mountains, they are also lifting themselves out of poverty.
Fang, who suffers from lumbar disc herniation and visual impairment, was once impoverished – he’s not able to seek a job outside the village as his aging mother and young children were both at home for him to take care of.
To help Fang get out of poverty, the government of Jinhu township helped him apply for a job as a forest ranger in 2016, from which he can earn 500 yuan ($70.4) per month.
Considering the caring from the government, Fang vowed to bring out the best of him. He consulted professional forest rangers in the township about how to use extinguishers, and keeps a work diary where he records in detail his daily routine, and things he must pay attention to during his patrol.
As an important forest area in China, Jiangxi province has the advantage and potential to realize poverty alleviation through forestry. Last year, the province newly offered forest ranger jobs to 7,500 people from impoverished households, bringing the total number to 21,500. It also made transfer payments of 530 million yuan, which helped lift nearly 70,000 people out of poverty.
Meanwhile, Jiangxi improved its ecological compensation mechanism for public benefit forests, and granted 1.12 billion yuan of eco-compensation to the province’s public benefit forests with the highest compensation standard in central China.
Last year, the province’s Ji’an granted a total of 127 million yuan in ecological compensation according to relevant measures, among which 3.62 million yuan was distributed to 6,642 poor households.
To be a good forest ranger is by no means easy. “We must go through examination, selection and training before finally getting the job,” Huang Lianhua, a forest arranger from a poor household in Nanmu village, Ji’an’s Suichuan county revealed.
Huang believes that everything about forest protection is too important to be taken lightly. He starts to patrol in the mountain at dawn every day as he cherishes the work very much.
“I no longer worry about slipping back into poverty because I have a stable income,” he said.
In addition to protecting the lucid water and green mountains, the forest rangers also developed a “green bank” in the mountain.
“We local people also benefit from a good natural environment,” said Rao Ruiyou, a forest ranger in Chencunwan village, Hengfeng county.
With the help of a local cooperative, he started his poultry business in the forests. Raised in a natural way in the woods, his chickens and ducks feed on insects in the mountains, instead of fodder, and are therefore very healthy. These sought-after poultry enabled his family to make a yearly income of over 40,000 yuan.
This year, he expanded the counting of the poultry to over 500, and turned his cold water paddy field, which covers 1.33 kilometers, into a fish pond where he now keeps over one hundred fish, including grass carp and crucian.
“Now people prefer healthy food, especially the urbanites. As my business grows, I have more to expect in the future,” said Rao.
As a slogan goes, fortune can be made without destroying the forests. A good natural environment also brings numerous opportunities for making fortune.
The province planted a total of around 1,300 square kilometers of high yielding oil-tea camellia last year, and 10 percent were cultivated in 1,000 impoverished villages, which helped lift over 220,000 people out of poverty, with each household gaining an extra of 2,000 yuan on average.
Fang earned a total of 36,000 yuan last year as a forest ranger. The job not only lifted him out of poverty, but also enabled him to renovate his house. He planted pueraria lobata in his 667-square meter paddy field this spring, planning to sell it to the tourists visiting Gongqingcheng’s Jiuxianling Forest Park that turned into a well-known tourist spot because of the efforts made to green the earth.
“As long as we work hard to protect the natural environment, I’m sure the life of local people will become better and better,” he said.

A local villager in Anfu county, Ji’an, Jiangxi province checks the growth of dendrobium officinale. To develop the herb medicine industry with the philosophy of green development is a highlight of the county in poverty alleviation. (Photo by Liu Liqiang, People’s Daily Online)