Jinyun Mountian is one of the four mountains in the central urban area and is called “the lung of Chongqing.” The ecological protection and restoration project follows systematic management and restoration in combination with the mountain’s geographical environment, climate, and plant growth patterns.
The region creates a sample for ecological restoration of Jinyun Mountain by demolishing illegal buildings, starting ecological relocation, and systematic and scientific restoration of landscapes, forests, fields, lakes, and grasses.
Ecological conservation, a town between mountains and rivers
Walking on the paving stones in Jingang Monument Historical and Cultural Block (Jingang Monument or the block for short), compared with things in the past, the old houses and old patterns have not changed, but the facade and roads of the old block have been built much better. The current Jingang Monument retains the pattern in the old town’s memory but it is also more comfortable and pleasant.
For example, there are still quaint stone bridges in Jingang Monument, with creeks gurgling under the bridges. The luxuriant ficus virens trees settle everywhere, and the green leaves shape like a natural awning. The block has become cleaner, and the old buildings along the road have been carefully restored with a feeling of profound history.
The highlight of the Jingang Monument is that the original pattern and architectural texture of streets and alleys are preserved so that the historical heritage can be fully displayed. Located at the foot of Jinyun Mountain and by the Jialing River, the stele of Jingang Monument prospered from the Qing Dynasty in history, which was first developed due to the delivery of coals. Jingang Monument Historical and Cultural Block covers an area of about 193 mu (about 13 hectares) and has been repaired since April 2018. This place of history and culture is constructed as an ancient cultural and tourism town with Bayu characteristics that integrates traditional features and modern business formats.
The charm of the Jingang Monument is based on good natural ecology. Ecological conservation was a core concept during the construction of the historical and cultural blocks. The stream has been specially purified and treated, flowing from the Jinyun Mountain into the block. Meanwhile, all the ancient trees inside the block, which are over a hundred years old, have also been properly protected. These ecological elements will also become the most distinctive properties of the Jingang Monument Historical and Cultural Block.
A complex ecosystem of mountain streams and ponds
Also, in Jinyun Mountain, the Jingang Monument is ushering in a new beginning while Yumingjian Scenic Spot has stepped back. Located halfway up the Jinyun Mountain, the scenic spot has demolished former fish ponds, turning them into crystal clear mountain streams.
Yumingjian Scenic Spot is the meeting point of important water systems on Jinyun Mountain. Located in the mid-mountain of Jinyun Mountain, Yumingjian’s water system is connected to three mountain lakes and many streams in the mountains, with a total water area of 4,900 square meters. The landscape of the scenic spot presents three steep gradients, and when the stream flows down a mountainside, it forms a natural mountain stream. It is also the key project in Jinyun Mountain’s protection ecological restoration to protect the mountain and water.
Due to the abundance of water, local villagers in the past built simple dams and divided the mountain streams into several ponds for fish farming to increase income. Hence, the flowing stream was confined. However, after the comprehensive water management started in 2018, all the fish ponds in Beibei District were demolished, and the circumscribed living water began to flow again.
Based on the water management and fish ponds demolition, Beibei has implemented ecological restoration and reforestation work. At the same time, Beibei plans to construct a mountain-featured complex ecosystem, which integrates with mountains, streams, and ponds. The area of reforestation achieves 4,600 square meters. At Yumingjian Scenic Spot, native plants, such as satin tail grasses, foxtail fountain grass, and orange coneflowers, swing with the wind, looking like dancers dancing with the wind.
The local staff also thought about introducing more beautiful landscape plants, but considering the natural background and ecological conditions of Jinyun Mountain, they chose native plants at last. Ecological restoration is not the same as landscaping. If the goal of ecological restoration is just for good-looking, it will violate the laws of nature.
Under the guidance of the concept of Lucid Waters and Lush Mountains Are Invaluable Assets1, the development methods of Jinyun Mountain have changed. In the past, the development there is simple, rude, and unsustainable, while it is more ecological and green now. In the Yumingjian Scenic Spot, Beibei District has built a 760-meter footpath to provide visitors with an experience that has close contact with nature and water. Currently, Yumingjian focuses on renovating idle farmhouses to develop green industries like eco-tourism in the future, offering more channels for local villagers to increase their income.
Big data and intelligent means to improve governance
In fact, Beibei District has also endeavored in recent years to protect the clear waters and lush mountains.
For example, in terms of forest fire prevention, it mainly relied on manual inspections in the past, while Beibei has applied a forest fire prevention warning and monitoring system based on intelligent means of big data now. Through 68 video surveillance sites, it can cover more than 95% of the forest area in the whole region.
In the working center of ecological civilization in Beibei District, a large screen can display the real-time situation of all video surveillance sites to achieve remote real-time supervisory control. At the same time, the information and patrol routes of all patrol personnel are also presented in real-time. In case of emergencies, the background staff members can conduct efficient commands in time.
Automatic recognition for visible light and infrared sensing technology is used in video surveillance, which can automatically identify smoke, fire, and so on and report the situation to the background. In the next step, Chongqing Beibei Forestry Bureau will expand the coverage of the monitoring system to achieve full coverage of the entire forest area.
In the past, some villagers burned to ash to accumulate fertilizer in the woodland, and they were identified by monitoring, therefore, extinguishing the fire in time without causing harm. Every day, there are “forest chiefs” inspecting the forest land in the village to ensure safety. There are 196 forest chiefs in Beibei, including the three levels of district, town, and village. Since Beibei launched the “forest chief” scheme2 pilot program in 2019, the district has established a long-term mechanism for the protection of forest resources that is synergistic and efficient. So far, more than 110 forestry violations have been controlled in accordance with the law.
This is just one of the achievements since comprehensive governance was launched. In the past three years, Beibei has invested a total of 2.75 billion yuan, and all 269 significant environmental problems in Jinyun Mountain have been solved. Seven hundred seventy-four thousand plants have been planted, and 450,000 square meters of soil have been achieved for rehabilitation and recultivation. Next step, Beibei will continue to promote the construction of ecological restoration, striving to create a national-level innovation practice base on the concept of Lucid Waters and Lush Mountains Are Invaluable Assets.
1. Lucid Waters and Lush Mountains Are Invaluable Assets: A good ecological environment is the fairest public product and the most accessible welfare for the people (President Xi Jinping addressed during his inspection tour in Hainan in April 2013). The assertion was initiated in 2005 when President Xi was the Party chief of Zhejiang province. It has been mentioned by Xi many times both inside and outside China to attach importance to environmental protection and green development. The report delivered at the 18th CPC National Congress included ecological development as a major task in the country’s overall plan and proposed building a “beautiful China” as a grand goal for ecological progress. Local government efforts to promote ecological progress will be reviewed annually, then again every five years, and be used as a criterion for the promotion of officials.
2. The “forest chief” scheme: China has issued a guideline to implement a “forest chief” scheme nationwide amid the country’s continuous efforts to protect forests and grasslands. It was issued by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council and urged that the “forest chief” scheme will be rolled out nationwide by June 2022. “General forest chiefs” should be appointed in all provincial-level regions, said the guideline. It clarified all levels of forest chiefs’ responsibilities in protecting forest and grassland resources. Under the scheme, China will strengthen ecological protection and restoration of forests and grasslands, promote large-scale afforestation, and enhance monitoring and supervision of forest and grassland resources by utilizing modern information technologies.