Tree planting and river revamp paying dividends

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily)

Updated: 2022-03-11


Yuncheng is one of the cities in Shanxi benefiting from greening and water environment improvement efforts in recent years. [Photo by Wang Pei for China Daily]

With a vision of "green mountains and clear waters meaning mountains of gold and silver", Shanxi province announced remarkable achievements in balanced environmental and economic development last year.

Statistics show that Shanxi added 34,700 hectares of forests and tackled 38,400 hectares of water-eroded land in 2021.

The Shanxi Bureau of Forest and Grassland said with growing efforts in greening Shanxi, the province's forests and grasslands generated a total revenue of 56 billion yuan ($8.86 billion) last year, translating into a steady increase of income for the farmers involved.

In Shanxi, the revenue from the forestry industry is not mainly from logging, but from carbon trading and the forest-related tourism industry.

Carbon trading is the buying and selling of credits that permit a company or other entity to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.

In China, carbon trading was made possible with the operation of the China Carbon Emission Trade Exchange in July 2021.

In addition, a total of 96 recreational tourism destinations have been opened in Shanxi's various forest farms.

The greening effort complemented soil erosion-control initiatives in Shanxi. When more trees and grasses were planted, a number of engineering measures had been implemented to prevent soil from being washed away by water.

In the drainage basin of the Fenhe River, the second-longest in Shanxi, nearly 200 kilometers of sections were improved last year with 18 erosion-control and ecological-restoration projects. The improvements led to a substantial decrease of silt content in the water and a steady increase of river runoff volume.

The river's improvement was augmented by controlling discharges of industrial waste and the construction of more sewage treatment facilities. The Shanxi Ecology and Environment Department's statistics show that more than 71.3 percent of Shanxi's surface water reached the nation's excellent or good quality standards last year.

To raise local government's sense of responsibility in environmental protection, Shanxi started appointing chiefs for each river several years ago.

A river chief is usually the head of the local government according to each section of the river. It can be the head of a township, county, city or provincial government. Shanxi's waterways are now taken care of by 17,675 river chiefs.

In addition, Shanxi's forests are looked after by nearly 18,000 forest chiefs.

Han Linfang contributed to this story.