Eco focus in Shanxi brings sustainable growth
Shanxi's forest coverage hit 23.18 percent in 2019, surpassing the national average for the first time. [Photo by Li Zhaomin for China Daily]
Greening efforts help to increase vegetation coverage and rural revenues
When the weather was getting warmer on March 12, thousands of volunteers in Taiyuan, the capital of North China's Shanxi province, went to the suburbs to celebrate National Tree-Planting Day.
Zhou Xifeng, a senior resident in Taiyuan, has volunteered in the tree-planting campaign for decades.
This time, she came to a site in Yangqu, a county in the north of Taiyuan, along with other volunteers of different ages.
"Today is the 40th anniversary of China's Tree-Planting Day. I am among the earliest volunteers engaged in tree planting since the very beginning," Zhou said.
Zhou, in her 60s, sees tree planting as a long-term hobby and she is regarded by many of her fellow volunteers as an "expert".
She said she was pleased with the site for planting trees. Zhou dug out some soil under the earth and looked at it closely.
"The soil has an ideal content of water and nutrition," she told her companions. "And the site also has plentiful sunshine. These make it a suitable place for planting trees."
The woman also shared her expertise on growing trees with the young volunteers.
"Chinese pines need to be watered frequently. When you plant Chinese scholar trees, you should trample on the soil to make it hard," Zhou said.
The 600-plus volunteers with Zhou planted more than 1,800 trees on that day.
The young people, especially the students, also regard tree planting as an opportunity to learn and get close to nature.
The students were taught the history of China's Tree-Planting Day and how the natural environment and people's lives can be changed by planting trees and grasses.
They learned that Shanxi had suffered environmental deterioration for several decades. This was to some extent a result of deforestation in the development of mining and agriculture.
They then learned that local authorities and residents are making painstaking efforts to restore the environment. Tree planting is one of these important efforts.
"In some regions of Shanxi, especially the dry areas in the north where the average annual rainfall is about 400 millimeters, growing a tree is harder than raising a child," Zhou told the volunteers.
"However, our people have unshakable determination in cultivating their homeland because they believe that trees can help shield them from the frequent, devastating sandstorms and prevent the land from water erosion," Zhou said.
Although March 12 is Tree-Planting Day, the tree-planting season in Shanxi can last from February to April, due to differences in latitude and altitude.
Usually, the tree-planting campaign starts in Yuncheng, a city in southern Shanxi, in early March and will spread north across the province until April.