Sichuan, China: Lucid waters and lush mountains beckon back locals living outside

The family of villager Liu Jianhong is involved in building a new house in Fuxing Village, Wawushan Town, Hongya County, Meishan City, Sichuan Province in southwest China. "These years, the supply of land used for rural housing has been dwindling, and new houses have been built near roads," said Yin Chengjing, the secretary of the village party branch. It turned out that 13 locals who lived outside have moved back to Fuxing Village with their family members, and 4 non-locals have also settled here. The population of the village has increased from over 600 at the beginning of this century to over 720 now.

Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Fuxing Village is located on the southern edge of the Giant Panda National Park. From here, it is about a two-hour drive away from the seat of the county. Last year, local villagers had a per capita income of 21,300 yuan, higher than the average per capita income of rural residents in the county. Every household in the village owns a western-style house and car, and many people even have houses in the seat of the county.

Wang Chengxiang, the former secretary of the village party branch, said that in the 1980s and 1990s, it was a scene of barren mountains and wasteland in Fuxing Village, and villagers depended on planting corn and digging bamboo shoots for the main source of income. "Our five-member family once bought half a kilogram of meat during the Spring Festival." Later, the competent villagers discovered the right way of living by making use of local resources in the course of afforestation.

The natural forest conservation project and the project of returning marginal farmland back to the forest have been implemented since 1998. In line with the local conditions, Fuxing Village stipulated that whichever village collectives carrying out afforestation will receive the subsidy and enjoy ownership and benefits.

In 2001, Mao Taichang was one of the first locals living outside who returned to Fuxing Village. He contracted the use rights of 6.6 ha barren hills for planting timber forest. The annual household income now exceeds 100,000 yuan. Liu Gongtian, a local villager who resettled in Danling County in 1997, returned to his hometown and set up an afforestation and protection team in 2002. He owned a small western-style building three years later. Fuxing Village has been named an advanced afforestation village in Hongya County for many years in a row. By the end of last year, the forest cover of Fuxing Village reached 96.5%. In 2009, Fuxing Village was named one of the first national villages for ecological progress.

With the establishment of the Giant Panda National Park, Fuxing Village has been exploring new ways to turn lucid waters and green mountains into invaluable assets in recent years. The village makes an overall plan for the village appearance and agritainment business has been launched. At present, there are 63 agritainment businesses in the village, which receive over 60,000 tourists annually.

In addition to the locals who have moved back to Fuxing Village, 4 non-locals have settled in Fuxing Village in recent years. One of them is Gao Bing from Shehong City, Suining City. Last year, Gao Bing earned nearly 200,000 yuan from his agritainment business. As the fire prevention period of forests approaches, Gao Bing is planning to donate firefighting tools to the forest rangers. "The business will go from strength to strength if this forest is protected."

Contact person: Zhang Peng

Tel.: 008628-86968621

Email: scrbw@scol.com.cn