Ti­betans be­come for­est guardians

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - By HU YONGQI, DA QIONG and PALDEN NY­IMA in Lhasa

Lharong Jangchu pa­trols the forests in his vil­lage with other men ev­ery week with a knife bun­dled around their waists to pro­tect them­selves from be­ing at­tacked by wild an­i­mals. The team rec­og­nizes pine trees from the red num­bers on them painted by the Forestry Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Diqing Ti­betan au­tonomous pre­fec­ture in north­west Yun­nan province.

His fel­low pa­trol­men would re­port to Lharong Jangchu af­ter count­ing the marks to en­sure there is no il­le­gal log­ging. “Years ago, pa­trol­men would pre­tend to be dead by ly­ing breath­less on the ground when en­coun­ter­ing black bears. It worked in most cases, but some men were hurt be­cause they hardly could hold their breath. Now that hor­ri­fy­ing sce­nario seems far away from us,” he said.

In ad­di­tion, the deputy head of the forestry sta­tion of Ny­ishi Town­ship asum­mons vil­lagers to a meet­ing each month to re­mind them that any be­hav­ior is pro­hib­ited to take kin­dles into the forests.

“Vil­lagers are al­lowed to pick up dry fire­wood when the trees have a nat­u­ral death, and they are able to dig out more pine mush­rooms as the forests grow,” said Lharong Jangchu. Vil­lagers also grow valu­able plants such as fun­gus in the for­est to earn ex­tra in­come while log­ging is strin­gently con­strained, officials at the Diqing Forestry Ad­min­is­tra­tion said.

Lharong Jangchu is one of the Ti­betan peo­ple who have stepped up to safe­guard their forests and de­velop valu­able plants to com­pen­sate for lost in­come from log­ging. Lo­cal peo­ple found that the pro­tec­tion brought them more en­dur­ing ben­e­fits and en­hanced their en­thu­si­asm to cul­ti­vate en­vi­ron­ment­friendly in­dus­tries.

Now many vil­lagers un­der­stand that the mush­rooms will die if the forests are dam­aged. If I cut the trees, it means I burn the bank that I de­posit cash in.” SUMWANG DRIVER IN SHANGRI-LA

Among the most di­verse places in terms of lo­cal flora and fauna are Diqing and the pre­fec­ture of Ny­ingchi in Ti­bet au­tonomous re­gion. It had func­tioned as a log­ging area as sup­pli­ers ex­ported wood to other places around the coun­try for years. But now things have changed. Lo­cal officials and res­i­dents re­al­ized the im­por­tance of be­ing care­ful with the na­ture and forests around them af­ter ex­ces­sive log­ging in the 1980s. Re­duced log­ging

The pa­trol teams also ed­u­cate vil­lagers on the im­por­tance of keep­ing the for­est in­tact. The pine mush­rooms must grow un­der trees as the leaves can cover them from di­rect sun­shine, said Lharong Jangchu.

“Now many vil­lagers un­der­stand that the mush­rooms will die if the forests are dam­aged. If I cut the trees, it means I burn the bank that I de­posit cash in,” said Sumwang, a 26-year-old driver in Shangri-La, the cap­i­tal of Diqing.

Many Ti­betan houses are built with wood and the size of the cen­ter pil­lars in their house rep­re­sents so­cial sta­tus and the wealth of the fam­ily. Years ago, Ti­betan fam­i­lies would stay deep in the for­est for one or two months to log gi­ant trees, at least 2 me­ters in di­am­e­ter, said Sumwang.

Be­tween the late 1970s and early 1990s, Diqing cut trees to pro­duce about 100 mil­lion cu­bic me­ters of wood that was trans­ported to other re­gions in the coun­try. To con­trol log­ging, each house­hold in Diqing can ap­ply to the town­ship and the county gov­ern­ments to get a log­ging per­mit as each fam­ily can cut 30 cu­bic me­ters of trees to build houses within 15 years.

The pa­trol teams have been widely dis­persed in forest­dense ar­eas to ef­fec­tively re­duce log­ging. In Ny­ingchi, lo­cal gov­ern­ments have pro­fes­sional teams to take up the re­spon­si­bil­ity of pro­tect­ing the for­est as ev­ery vil­lage has an or­ga­nized team. Cur­rently, Ny­ingchi has 28,000 ru­ral pa­trol­men to safe­guard the forests.

“There are 16 house­holds in Gong­drong vil­lage. Each day four peo­ple from four house­holds take turns to safe­guard the for­est that lies be­hind their vil­lage,” said Yangyen, vil­lage chief of Gong­drong vil­lage, the Ny­ingchi pre­fec­ture.

Lim­it­ing log­ging is an ef­fi­cient ap­proach to pro­tect­ing the for­est in Ny­ingchi pre­fec­ture. An­nual com­mer­cial log­ging has been re­duced from 70,000 cu­bic me­ters in 2005 to 50,000 cu­bic me­ters at present, ac­cord­ing to the Ny­ingchi Forestry Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Com­mer­cial log­ging is mainly for build­ing houses for farm­ers and herders in the vil­lages. In 2013, Ny­ingchi bud­geted 43,928 cu­bic me­ters of wood for hous­ing projects, and the ac­tual con­sump­tion was only 5,358 cu­bic me­ters.

In order to re­duce wood con­sump­tion, the govern­ment pro­motes new en­er­gies such as so­lar power, liq­ue­fied gas, and biomass fuel pro­duced by straw and forestry waste. An av­er­age of about one mil­lion cu­bic me­ters of wood con­sump­tion is de­creased an­nu­ally, said Tashi Ton­drub, direc­tor of Ny­ingchi Forestry Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

He Xiangcheng, deputy direc­tor of the Diqing Forestry Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said the forests pro­duced high­e­co­nomic out­put af­ter be­ing placed un­der pro­tec­tion. Diqing earned 850 mil­lion yuan (US$136.96 mil­lion) from 2006 to 2011 and the num­ber in­creased to 1.6 bil­lion yuan in 2012, ac­count­ing for 14 per­cent of the pre­fec­ture’s GDP, said He.


Wu Qiongsan (right), direc­tor of the man­age­ment sta­tion of Diqing’s pub­lic forests, checks out ill trees with pa­trol­men in Ny­ishi town­ship in Shangri-La county, cap­i­tal of Diqing Ti­betan au­tonomous pre­fec­ture in South­west China’s Yun­nan province.

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