Ms to hit the heights

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COVER STORY -

good habits,” said He Chang­ping. ep­tion center, which in­cludes a cafe and s, cov­ers 0.22 hectares. Ac­cord­ing to nal stan­dards, set by the UN, land for on can­not take up more than 1 per­cent k’s to­tal area, so a ho­tel will be built on site. If tourism flour­ishes in the deep num­ber of visi­tors will be lim­ited to a m 1,000 per day, he said. an­age­ment bureau brought in Bei­jing En­vi­ron­ment and De­vel­op­ment In­sti­vide funds to vil­lagers to en­able them to ash crops and raise bees, thereby lift­ing mes. In Da­maidi vil­lage, each of the 22 ds pays 1,000 yuan a year into a de­vel­opd. A fur­ther 22,000 yuan is loaned to four y San­sheng, pro­vid­ing cap­i­tal of 44,000 an­num. r, Liu Shun­cai, the vil­lage head, ob­tained rest loan of 8,000 yuan from the fund to ehives. He made a sub­stan­tial profit by e honey, and is still in credit even af­ter his loan ev­ery month. come per per­son in my fam­ily dou­bled uan last year,” he said, adding that four mi­lies have taken out loans to cul­ti­vate d in Chi­nese tra­di­tional medicine. chang, the park’s cen­tral vil­lage, the stanng is ex­tremely low. Of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics show that last year the av­er­age per capita in­come was 700 yuan, which left many lo­cals de­pen­dant on il­le­gal log­ging and hunt­ing to make ends meet. Rec­og­niz­ing the sever­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, the man­age­ment bureau signed an agree­ment in Au­gust with The Na­ture Con­ser­vancy, a US-based NGO, al­low­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion to con­duct re­search and pro­tect the habi­tat of the Golden Mon­key in Yun­nan.

Liu Hui, the man­ager of the con­ser­vancy’s of­fice in Li­jiang, said that this year the NGO dou­bled the price it paid farm­ers for white kid­ney beans on con­di­tion that they re­frained from cut­ting ex­tra wood and killing the in­dige­nous wildlife. Liu and her col­leagues have to walk at least 15 km to visit the far-away mon­i­tor­ing sta­tion for the mon­keys, which are sit­u­ated too deep in the in­te­rior for high­ways and au­to­mo­biles.

The NGO has also or­ga­nized vil­lager moun­tain pa­trols to track Golden Mon­keys and stop the lo­cals from harm­ing the en­dan­gered species. Liu said her or­ga­ni­za­tion has in­stalled more than 30 sur­veil­lance cam­eras in the woods to mon­i­tor lo­cal ac­tiv­ity.

To the north, Lim­ing is the park’s most pop­u­lous town­ship. More than 4,800 res­i­dents live in a nar­row river val­ley in the shadow of the fa­mous Danxia land­forms — stun­ning, rain­bow-col­ored moun­tains — that are part of an am­bi­tious plan to build high­ways, ho­tels, plank roads, and other tourist fa­cil­i­ties.

In 2009, Yun­nan Expo Tourism Hold­ings Ltd agreed a joint ven­ture with the gov­ern­ment of Li­jiang to de­velop tourism in the Lim­ing area. So far, the com­pany has in­vested at least 250 mil­lion yuan to im­prove the in­fra­struc­ture. A new ca­ble­way is un­der con­struc­tion. When it’s fin­ished, cable cars will carry visi­tors to Qian­gui Moun­tain, where the rocks on the sum­mit re­sem­ble thou­sands of tor­toises.

“Any con­struc­tion has to pass our tests in the plan­ning stage. Con­struc­tion com­pa­nies aren’t al­lowed to use ex­plo­sives be­cause the rocks may col­lapse from the im­pact,” said He Jiguang, di­rec­tor of the man­age­ment bureau’s plan­ning di­vi­sion.

De­pleted re­sources

How­ever, tourism hasn’t brought the riches the vil­lagers had an­tic­i­pated. Feng Jin­long, Liguang’s vil­lage head, said the con­flict be­tween de­vel­op­ment and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion hasn’t eased fol­low­ing the boom in tourism. He earned 240,000 yuan by sell­ing land and in­vested the money in rais­ing chick­ens and sheep. How­ever, the res­i­dents of vil­lages deep in the moun­tains still live be­low the poverty line.

The area’s nat­u­ral re­sources are still be­ing de­pleted, too. In Lim­ing, which is renowned for its to­bacco, de­mand has soared for the fire­wood needed to dry the leaves. More­over, be­cause the stem of ev­ery kid­ney bean plant has to be tied to a sup­port, stocks of nat­u­ral bam­boo are be­ing re­duced rapidly.

Lao­jun Moun­tain falls un­der three ban­ners: a na­tional park, a ge­o­graphic park and a scenic site, each gov­erned by the forestry depart­ment, the land and re­sources depart­ment and the hous­ing and ur­ban-ru­ral de­vel­op­ment bureau.

The park’s man­age­ment bureau has no real power to stop en­vi­ron­men­tal vi­o­la­tions or to or­der vil­lages and town­ships to fol­low the strict plan­ning re­quire­ments. How­ever, in Oc­to­ber, it forced Yun­nan Expo Tourism Hold­ings to de­mol­ish 50 me­ters of plank road that did not com­ply with the plan­ning rules. It was a rare vic­tory for He Jiguang.

“The man­age­ment bureau has less power than a county gov­ern­ment, even though we’re at the same level,” said Zhang Xuemin, the bureau’s di­rec­tor, who urged the cen­tral gov­ern­ment to es­tab­lish a min­istry-level depart­ment to gov­ern all na­tional parks.

“Many of the on­go­ing na­ture re­serves or scenic sites are nat­u­rally beau­ti­ful land­scapes, but are used in­de­pen­dently for sight­see­ing and re­search. That has re­sulted in low ef­fi­ciency in terms of man­age­ment and bud­gets, so the na­tional parks sys­tem will in­te­grate the two mod­els to pro­mote con­ser­va­tion and de­vel­op­ment,” said Yang Weimin, the deputy head of the Of­fice of the Cen­tral Lead­ing Group on Fi­nance and Eco­nomic Af­fair, in an ed­u­ca­tional book­let pub­lished for the Novem­ber ple­nary ses­sion.

Con­tact the writer at huy­ongqi@chi­ Li Yingqing and Guo Anfei con­trib­uted to this story.

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