Afforested West Mountain in Taiyuan. [Photo/Taiyuan Evening News] 

Amid the summer sun, West Mountain, covered in dense trees in Taiyuan, capital of North China's Shanxi province, has become a popular leisure destination for visitors seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. 

It is hard to imagine that West Mountain was once the heavily polluted area of Taiyuan's heavy chemical industry base, with over 2,700 polluting coal mining, coking, and cement production companies creating over 100 square kilometers of coal mining subsidence areas there and about 10 sq km of mountain destruction. 

The West Mountain's restoration, which spanned over a decade, began in 2008. 

In 2011, Taiyuan issued a circular to encourage investment in ecological construction in the mountain. Local enterprises, such as Taiyuan Iron and Steel Group Co and Taiyuan Coal Gasification Group, participated in this green campaign. 

Zhang Junping, head of Shanxi Jinfeng Heating Co, was one of the first entrepreneurs to invest in the ecological restoration of West Mountain. His company invested in the restoration and construction of the Yuquan Mountain Forest Park. 

Over the past decade, we have invested nearly 1.2 billion yuan ($165.88 million), with over 1,000 people working on the mountain yearly. We have planted over 6 million trees, built over 100 km of roads, and laid 430 km of water pipelines, Zhang said. 

The once-barren mountain has transformed into a sea of forests and flowers, attracting many visitors yearly.


The former garbage dump becomes a beautiful Yuquan Mountain Suburban Forest Park. [Photo provided to goshanxi.com.cn] 

The construction of the Yuquan Mountain Forest Park is one of the typical examples of greening of West Mountain. Through a combination of "government guidance + market operation + corporate involvement + park development," 18 suburban forest parks have been built in the mountain area, over 133 sq km of afforestation have been completed, and more than 6 sq km of damaged areas have been restored in West Mountain, making local forest coverage rate surging from 20 percent to 80 percent. 

In addition, West Mountain's ecological restoration model in mining areas has been shared internationally at COP24 in Poland and displayed at the national exhibition of tech innovation achievements during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020). 

As per the report presented by the esteemed director of the management committee of West Mountain Demonstration Zone, Chen Junfeng, it has been observed that the zone has made noteworthy strides in curbing the release of carbon dioxide and pollutants. 

Specifically, the emission of carbon dioxide has been reduced by nearly 1 million metric tons, while the emission of pollutants has been diminished by a notable margin of over 50 percent in recent years. Furthermore, the development of suburban forest parks has led to the creation of nearly 10,000 job opportunities that have been dispersed across more than 100 villages, thereby contributing positively to the overall economic growth of the region.

Next, the West Mountain Demonstration Zone will focus on creating an international mountain tourism resort and a national-level tourism and holiday zone that integrates cultural and tourism industries.