Chongqing- As environmental protection has become a prominent issue related to people's livelihood, the mission to restore the sight of clear waters with rich aquatic life, green mountains, and shores has entered a new era. This objective is exemplified by the Chongqing Fengdu County section of the Loong River, which has been listed among the first batch of 17 national demonstration areas for lakes and rivers.
Chongqing bears responsibility for protecting the Yangtze River upper reaches and Three Gorges Reservoir, for they act as the final ecological barrier that determines environmental security downriver, whilst also playing an important role in overall development nationwide.
The Loong River originates from the Wuling Mountains and flows into the Three Gorges Reservoir, so the high level of biodiversity and the ecology of water and soil conservation is of great significance in terms of guidance and symbolic value.
What makes the experience of Fengdu unique as a demonstration river are the difficult conditions and sources of conflict encountered from the start. As a result, the practical experience gained from restoring the Loong River in Fengdu offers great demonstration value for such projects nationwide.
A major project for environmental restoration in the Loong River valley is the demolition of Xingwang Chemical Plant and adjacent cement factory. While the process of landscaping the former site is still underway, the clear emerald waters set off picturesquely against the scenery of wooded karst precipices, while egrets fly casually past amid a picture of tranquility.
As a reminder that heavy industry once-blighted this idyllic location, and the achievements in restoration that have taken place since a red brick tower of the former chemical plant have been retained, which holds a measure of aesthetic appeal whilst provoking thought on the question of balance between nature and human industry.
Sanjian Township in the Loong River valley of Fengdu has a claim to fame based on the famous stone Jiuxigou (Nine Gulley) Bridge, which spans 140 meters across the river, and is still in use today.
It was completed unilaterally in 1972 by Fengdu County despite being denied approval from higher technical departments. Since the area was in dire economic straits, the stone arch bridge was built without experts or mechanical equipment. Manual laborers mixed the cement and lifted the stone by hand with the guidance of primitive forestry compasses.
In November 1977, the Nine Gulley Bridge won a major national scientific prize for the achievement and was commemorated by the issuance of an eight fen stamp released by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications nationwide.
On December 22, Lvchunba Village of Sanjian Township, Fengdu County, was bestowed the award of Top Ten Most Beautiful Ecological Villages in China at the 2020 Boao International Summit held in Hainan Province.
Sanjian Township is located amidst the precipitous gorges of Longhe Valley and has long suffered from natural disasters, inconvenient transportation, scarce water resources, economic under-development, and poverty-level incomes.
However, once Sanjian Township was formerly identified as a highly impoverished township in August 2017, the township has vigorously implemented the ecological concept that mountains and rivers are a great source of natural wealth and prosperity.
Concerned parties have focused on ecological restoration and agricultural tourism as the main priority, while ideas for development have been implemented through hard work to achieve victory in the battle against poverty.
As a result, the old face of Sanjian has been replaced with a scene of resplendent modernity blended with original charm, whilst the former image of impoverishment has been replaced with prosperity that now attracts visitors in their droves.
A series of three major changes were implemented to bring about this transformation, the first of which was to carry through on the policy of two assurances and three guarantees. Specifically, efforts have been made to resolve the prominent problems in assuring the rural poor population that their food and clothing needs will be met and guaranteeing that they have access to compulsory education, basic medical services, and safe housing
Ecological development has seen 3,275 rural households become shareholders in the cultivation of over 3000 acres of bamboo shoots, camellia, flowers, crisp plums, and flat peaches, industries that can thrive in harmony with the beautiful country environment.
Infrastructure was fully upgraded to ensure that all households in the village communities are connected through a network of paved roads and have efficient access to financial services, waste removal, and e-commerce outlets.
The whole village covers 6 square kilometers with a land forest coverage rate of 95% and 1.5 square kilometers of protected wetlands. The Loong River's pristine waters run through the village with 10,000 trees planted along the banks, a scene of green tranquility that adorns the idyllic village landscape.
Ten characteristic home-stays run by local villagers in Lvchuanba have received 25,000 tourists since April 2020, earning a combined 5 million yuan revenue through tourism. One fine example is the unique and intricately designed ‘Flower Creek Kitchen,’ which has exploded in popularity online, and tourists flock to experience this must-visit location.
As a national demonstration area for lakes and rivers, and a newly awarded top ten beautiful village in China, the Loong River's transformation in Fengdu provides a solid case example of how environmental restoration can be achieved, despite the greatest of challenges.
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