Ecological restoration transformed a county affected by soil erosion into an oasis

The rate of soil erosion in Changting County, east China’s Fujian Province, has increased from over 31.5% to 6.78% over the past two decades, and the mountains that once looked like giant sand dunes have now turned into an oasis of orange groves.

Local fruit growers end the year with a good harvest, picking juicy navel oranges from the branches. Twenty years ago, this was not the case, because then there was only barren land.

“The sand glistened in the sun on sunny days and the temperature rose to 70 degrees Celsius. It was what we call ‘a flaming mountain,’” said Liu Fenggao, a villager from the town’s Xiufang Village. by Hetian. .

To improve their lives, some residents were the first to build orchards there. At first the progress was slow, but soon things started to change. Some small orchards started to take shape in the 1990s when the acting governor of Fujian Province, Xi Jinping, visited Changting County.

During his visit, Xi urged locals to coordinate agricultural development with comprehensive mountain and forest management, especially controlling soil erosion and water loss. He encouraged them to turn their disadvantage into an advantage to promote the local economy.

Recalling what Xi told him, Lai Musheng, a villager from Datong City, said, “He told me that I was doing well with my orchard and that I should enlarge it and plant fruit trees. in the mountains. First, it could make money. Second, it could help control soil erosion. “

The agricultural strategy turned into a path of rehabilitation of the local ecosystem and nature, and soon the abandoned mountains began to be carpeted with vegetation.

“The project has encouraged many people to get involved in soil and water management,” said Yushui Huosheng, a fruit grower in Sanzhou City. “I had over 700 mu (about 46 hectares) of land planted with fruit trees, including four orchards. In the fourth year, the company earned me about 300,000 yuan (about $ 47,096) that year. “

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