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Families benefit from protection campaigns

By XU WEI and HU MEIDONG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-11-05

Efforts to safeguard ecology, environment pay off

For as long as Zhu Qinggui can remember, the forests near his home have offered a rich abundance of firewood for cooking, heating and drying the lotus seeds his family grows as its main source of income.

Explaining his lifestyle, the 49-year-old quotes a Chinese proverb that states, "If you live near the mountain, you try to make a living from it."

The proverb has held good for the family, which lives in Dayuan, a village in Sanming, Fujian province.

However, with the recent enforcement of a logging ban in the village, the family has abandoned wood-burning stoves and turned to liquefied natural gas and electricity for cooking. Local authorities offered a one-off subsidy of 500 yuan ($75) to buy new cookers and each family member 20 yuan a month to cover additional costs.

Electric machines to dry lotus seeds have been promoted in the area to replace those fueled by wood, a move widely welcomed by farmers, as the new machines have proved far more efficient and can produce seed products with a much higher quality.

Meanwhile, the many lotus farms located in terraced fields in Zhu's village are being developed into a tourist attraction, with more than 50,000 such visits made so far this year.

With tourists crowding the local roads when the lotus plants bloom, Zhu and his fellow villagers have been able to sell their produce at much higher prices than in previous years.

"The government has repaved the roads and built new public facilities to accommodate the influx of tourists. We have deeply appreciate the words 'green mountains and lucid waters are invaluable assets'."

Zhu's family is just one of many in Sanming to benefit directly in recent years from the campaign to bolster local ecology and the environment.

The protection efforts, including measures to safeguard forests and reduce pollution from industries, have paid off, with tourism now an important pillar of the city's economy. During the National Day holiday at the start of this month, Sanming received 4.22 million tourist visits, and during this period, the sector generated 2.47 billion yuan in revenue.

City officials said they have been inspired by President Xi Jinping's long-standing emphasis on ecological and environmental protection, including comments he made during his 11 visits to Sanming while serving as a leading provincial official.

During a visit to the city in April 1997, Xi, then deputy secretary of the Communist Party of China Fujian Provincial Committee, told local officials that "green mountains and lucid waters are invaluable assets".

He said it was important for areas such as Sanming to devise viable plans to explore mountain, river and farmland resources.

During another trip to the city in June 2002, when he was Fujian governor, Xi emphasized that environmental development was of paramount importance.

He said at the time that it might seem that green mountains and lucid waters are of little value, but in the long term, they are priceless assets. He also urged local officials to strive to transform economic growth and to avoid wasting resources and damaging the environment.

During his later tenure in Zhejiang province, Xi continued to stress that "green mountains and lucid waters are invaluable assets", with the concept becoming well-known and summarized as the "Two Mountains Theory".

The concept was set out in Xi's report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2017 to guide nationwide environmental and ecological protection campaigns.

Liu Xiaoyan, head of the Sanming forestry bureau, said Xi's vision played a significant role in pushing forward reform of the city's forestry sector, a key element of protecting the local environment and ecology.

To carry out Xi's instructions, the authorities explored a number of reform measures, including taking steps to encourage farmers to transfer their timberland to forest cooperatives and other operators, and issuing more loans to forestry businesses to solve their financial problems, Liu said.

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