The central government earmarked Fujian province as the country's first ecological civilization pilot zone in August, assigning the provincial government 26 key tasks and 38 reforms to realize the goal.
It is a key move in the nationwide environmental protection work and reforms for the province's ecological improvement, local officials and scholars said.
Fujian is expected to produce transplantable experience and become a model of environmental protection that can be shared nationwide.
The provincial government has set up an ecological civilization construction leadership team and made the provincial and city heads accountable for local environment, making the environmental protection an important measure in evaluating their performance.
Fujian is expected to reply to the central government on its experience in two years, and to become a model for ecological civilization construction by 2020.
President Xi Jinping worked in Fujian from 1985 to 2002, working his way up from vice-mayor of Xiamen to provincial governor.
When he worked in the province, Xi pointed out that Fujian should have flexible administrative mechanisms, a sound industrial structure, affluent citizens and a beautiful environment.
In 2000, Xi proposed building Fujian as an ecologically-centered province, and the provincial government made a plan for its environmental protection.
Xi's foresight in ecological preservation laid a solid foundation for Fujian to become a role model in this regard, local media reports.
Fujian has accumulated valuable experience in forest land property rights reform, treatment of soil erosion and compensation for ecological protection.
In 2014, the State Council named the province the first model zone for ecological civilization in the country.
Thanks to the government's unswerving efforts, Fujian's forest coverage rate surpassed 66 percent in 2015, the highest among all provincial regions for 37 consecutive years, compared with the 22 percent national average.
The water quality of Fujian's 12 main rivers is much higher than that of most other provinces, as is the air quality in its nine major cities.
Fujian's energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions per unit of its GDP is 25 percent, lower than the national average, and the emissions of the four main airborne pollutants are half that of the national average.
"Fujian is an important ecological protective screen in the east of China," said Pan Shuming, a researcher on development at the Fujian Academy of Social Sciences.
"The province's past efforts paid off and its experience has become increasingly valuable for the country in the future, as China parallels ecological preservation with economic growth, cultural and social constructions," Pan said.
Pan suggested the Fujian authorities take the initiative to fulfill the tasks and reforms assigned by the central government.
"Local officials in Fujian should realize what they do is not only for their own province, but also for the whole country," Pan added.
He urged Fujian to develop green industries related to ecological civilization and turn these industries into the new driving forces for future economic growth.
Then the civilization's preservation will be sustainable and generate added value, he said.
"If the government can keep a balance between economic growth and environmental protection, the industrialization, urbanization and the modernization of agriculture that Fujian is experiencing will be compatible with the pursuit of ecological civilization," he said.
Li Yang contributed to this story.
Visitors tour around a creative industrial park in Fujian.Li Yishuang / For China Daily