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Monday, 4 July 2011

Chinese town going green



CNC report from Sichuan
Added On June 5, 2011



As the planet's "carbon clothes", forests are more than providing us fresh air!

When people are trying to make economic benefits out of this natural resource, they are also damaging it at the same time!

That's why this year's World Environment day is calling for people to take care of forests around the world!

And, that is exactly what people in a small town do. The southwest Chinese town has found a balance between environmental protection and economic development----through much struggling!

LIFESTYLES takes you on a green journey to get the story.

Shuimo town is located in Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Southwest China.

As moutain dwellers, the ethnic group of Qiang people have lived in this town for thousands years along mountain terraces.

Skilled in making granite stone houses, traditional instruments such as leather drums, they have also absorbed various cultuers.

As one iconic element of Chinese culture, the green tea planting is a vital part of Qiang people's green life!


It's an early summer morning at the town's tea planting base. At the altitude of 2000 meters, workers are already picking up tea leaves in the field.

SOUNDBITE: LIU GUANGMING, TEA PLANTER
"We get up at six every morning and start working at 7, this is the best hour of a day to pluck tea leaves. We enjoy the sunshines, the dew on the leaves and the fresh air."

But, that scenery was never seen before. With more than 60 heavy industries once settling here, the town's air was thick with dust, and the tea plantation was heavily polluted.

SOUNDBITE: LI FEI, HEAD OF JIUZHAI TEA FACTORY
"The environment was not good a couple of years ago. The tea leaves were often covered with dusts."

Even worse, the plantation was nearly ruined as the destructive earthquake happened in 2008.

SOUNDBITE: LI FEI, HEAD OF JIUZHAI TEA FACTORY
"When the earthquake happened, I tried to grab something. But the building shaked so heavily, I had to jump out of the window. I was on the second floor and got lucky. But many buildings collapsed in only a few seconds, we watched our home disappearing."

The problem is much tougher than the earthquake itself. After the disaster, the town had to fight for a future. And, they found their way.

SOUNDBITE: QING LIDONG, LOCAL OFFICIAL
"Industry is key to our development. But we cannot allow any more damage on the environment. So what we are aiming at is to develop a green economy, to improve people life as well as protect the environment."

The town used to rely on energy-intensive industries, which had greatly harmed the ecosystem. During the reconstruction, local factories were displacemented or shut down, paving the way for a better ecosystem.

The restoration of the environment also benefits the tea plantation.

SOUNDBITE: LI FEI, HEAD OF JIUZHAI TEA FACTORY
"Our tea's unique taste attracts many customers. We irrigate and make the tea with natural water, which is alkalescent. And that couldn't happen
a few years ago, when the water was heavily polluted."

During the reconstruction, Shuimo Town has found more than one way to bring the place to prosperity. As a settlement for Tibetan and Qiang
nationalities, the town built itself into a tourism spot featuring ethnic minorities cultures.

Long Gang is a hotel owner. At this 600-square-meter place, Long and his wife started a new life after the earthquake took everything from them.

SOUNDBITE: LONG GANG, HOTEL OWNER
"I was sad and hopeless when everything was destroyed by the earthquake.
But people helped us, and the town was rebuilt to be even better."

One of Long Gang's hobbies is Chinese painting. The theme of his works are mainly on the moutains, a typical symbol of traditional arts. He says he feels more relaxed now, as the town's booming tourism gives his hope.

SOUNDBITE: LONG GANG, HOTEL OWNER
"We invested more than 310,000 U.S. dollars to this hotel. That's a lot of money, but we see many opportunities here. I can earn about 500 dollars a
day if the business goes well. So I'm quite optimistic about our future."

The town's restored environment also brought back forests to its people.

Wang Xueming is the head of Huang Jiaping Village, he takes care of his ginkgoes every day, measuring their size, hoping to sell them at a
higher price.

SOUNDBITE: WANG XUEMING, HEAD OF HUANGJIAPING VILLAGE
"The diameter of the tree trunk has reached 20 centimeters. The tree is 10 years old already. Someone offered me 230 U.S. dollars to buy it, but I refused. I'm waiting for the tree to grow bigger. Its price is increasing every year by about 60 dollars."

Ginkgo is regarded as a living fossil as the plant dates back 270 million years. Its fruit has various uses as a food and traditional medicine.

When the forests were restored in the town, Wang Xueming and other villagers started to grow this plant, and business is growing every year.

SOUNDBITE: WANG XUEMING, HEAD OF HUANGJIAPING VILLAGE
" When I was little, my family grew crops and raised pigs, and we were just trying to make a living. But now we are growing ginkgoes, and some of us make 1500 U.S. dollars out of it every year. Our lives are also greatly improved."

And, Wang doesn't forget to plan for a sustainable future.

SOUNDBITE: WANG XUEMING, HEAD OF HUANGJIAPING VILLAGE
"I planted another 280 saplings this years. So after I sell out all the grown trees, I can start over. Also, the ecological balance won't be broken by our business."

Shuimo Town was once home to several heavy industries, which were the major tax sources for the local government. However, decided to going green, the town closed all the industries with huge profits but also heavy pollution.

SOUNDBITE: QING LIDONG, LOCAL OFFICIAL
"We had 63 industrial companies. After the earthquake, 61 companies were closed and transformed into recycling factories, while the other two high-tech companies are now serving the town' tourism industry."

In fact, before tourism industry was created in history, Tibetans and Qiang people have being "performing" for thousands years here. The talent of singing and dancing are considered as basic instinct inherited from one generation to another.

Hence, that's not rare that traditional songs related to topics such as rivers and the mountains can be heard as a part of welcoming ceremony for tourists now.

Yexiranji is quite different from those performers. He is 14-year-old, studying at a middle school in Shuimo Town. As a tibetan, he told CNC correspondent that he would like to personally sing a traditional song about "friend" for the Wolrd Environmental Day.

It is not clear that if the song of "Friend" includes the friendship between human beings and the nature, but the rhythm of diverse ecosystem on the land never stops.

Three years after the earthquake, a greener Shuimo Town has gained itself hope and a bright future.

World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Another resolution, adopted by the General Assembly the same day, led to the creation of UNEP.

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