CHONGQING, September 10, China daily -- In the remote mountains of Chongqing, rows of saplings planted by local villagers are part of a trial forest project with national significance.
Forests have recovered on the mountains in Chengkou county, Chongqing. TAO MING/XINHUA
"There are more than 47 hectares of planted and cultivated forests in the village of Xiaoshuiba, which is part of the national reserve forests project," said Hong Jiaguo, deputy director of the forestry bureau of Chengkou county. Located deep in the Daba Mountains, the county has seen more than 70 percent of its area covered by forest.
In April 2018, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration published the National Reserve Forests Construction Plan (2018-35). By 2035, China plans to build 20 million hectares of national reserve forests to achieve self-sufficiency in timber requirements.
Chongqing began to establish about 333,000 hectares of national reserve forests in January last year, with a total investment of 19 billion yuan ($2.7 billion). Chengkou is the project's first experimental demonstration county.
An added benefit of the project has been the improvement in the environment. "The planted saplings have colored many barren hills green with vegetation," Hong said.
The demonstration project is also proving to be a money-spinner for local farmers.
Yang Youjiang and his wife have earned over 10,000 yuan since March, assisting in the cultivation of the saplings and undertaking road construction work required for the project. "In the past, the forest was unattended and almost became a wasteland. I never thought I could make money from it," Yang said.
Research data show that 30,000 cubic meters of timber can increase the combined income of farmers in the county by 1.5 million yuan each year, while cultivation, maintenance, and other work related to the project have created more than 3,000 jobs.
"We will rely on the national reserve forest project to develop other industries and build resorts to promote the development of tourism," said Kan Jilin, Party chief of the county.