Green means hap­pi­ness in Hainan

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China - By MA ZHIPING and LIU XIAOLI in Haikou ZHANG MAO / FOR CHINA DAILY Con­tact the writ­ers at mazhip­ing@ chi­

Fengx­i­ang Wet­land Park,

Na­tional sur­veys of­ten show that peo­ple from the trop­i­cal is­land prov­ince of Hainan are high on the hap­pi­ness scale. A healthy ecol­ogy and green-themed sus­tain­able prac­tices are the key el­e­ments cited.

“I travel around the world but Hainan is al­ways home,’’ one sur­vey re­spon­dent wrote. The rea­sons the re­spon­dent gave for choos­ing Hainan as a per­ma­nent place of res­i­dence were many, but the is­land’s qual­ity eco­log­i­cal re­sources were at the top of the list.

Hainan has taken sev­eral proac­tive steps to pre­serve its lush rain forests, ver­dant moun­tains and pris­tine sandy beaches — both to pro­tect eco­log­i­cal di­ver­sity and to make sure the prov­ince’s proud rep­u­ta­tion as a tourist haven re­mains un­blem­ished.

An of­fice in charge of over­see­ing pro­tec­tion of the prov­ince’s rivers asked lo­cal city and county gov­ern­ments ear­lier this month to sub­mit pro­pos­als by the end of May on how to bet­ter care for and im­prove the ma­jor rivers’ eco­log­i­cal health.

Last year, Hainan un­der­took a com­pre­hen­sive ap­proach to pro­tect its rivers, lakes, bays and small is­lands. The new sys­tem re­quires of­fi­cials from all lev­els of lo­cal gov­ern­ment to shoul­der their re­spon­si­bil­ity in pro­tect­ing the wa­ter­ways in their ju­ris­dic­tions.

The Meishe River and the ter­race-style Fengx­i­ang Wet­land Park in the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal, Haikou, have be­come pop­u­lar gath­er­ing spots for lo­cals thanks to on­go­ing ef­forts to im­prove their ecosys­tems.

“The city gov­ern­ment closed 31 dis­charge out­lets along the 23.8-kilo­me­ter Meishe River, the main river of Haikou, and built three waste­water treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties with a to­tal daily pro­cess­ing vol­ume of 7,500 met­ric tons. Newly seen aquatic veg­e­ta­tion such as pur­ple ar­row­root, wa­ter lilies and thalia cover 405,000 square me­ters and have helped pu­rify the river wa­ter to a higher qual­ity level,” said Zeng Wei­hua, deputy di­rec­tor of Haikou’s wa­ter re­sources bureau.

He be­lieves the new wa­ter­way pro­tec­tion sys­tem will en­sure that the ben­e­fits from the river restora­tion cam­paign will keep flow­ing in.

Shen Xiaom­ing, Hainan’s gov­er­nor, said the sys­tem of ap­point­ing of­fi­cials as “chiefs” to pro­tect rivers, lakes, bays, is­lands and moun­tains, will be strictly im­ple­mented to safe­guard the is­land’s unique nat­u­ral re­sources.

Qizi Bay in Changjiang county, on the western coast of the is­land, was a bar­ren waste­land plagued by sand­storms half a cen­tury ago. But af­ter a green­ing cam­paign by the lo­cal gov­ern­ment be­gin­ning in 1992, land­scapes have been trans­formed and farm­ers like Tao Fengjiao, along with her neigh­bors, have en­thu­si­as­ti­cally taken part in the cam­paign.

Over a quar­ter-cen­tury later, the 59-year-old Tao doesn’t the largest of its kind in Haikou, Hainan prov­ince, is sit­u­ated along the Meishe River. re­mem­ber how many trees she and her sis­ters planted in bar­ren ar­eas. But a for­est of Aus­tralian pine trees that cov­ers an area of 1,254 hectares now stretches along Qizi Bay and has be­come part of the nat­u­ral at­trac­tion of the re­gion.

As a re­sult of the green­ing cam­paigns, more than 130,000 hectares of trees have been planted across the prov­ince, ex­tend­ing the gen­eral for­est cov­er­age rate to 62.1 per­cent, one of the top three ra­tios among prov­inces na­tion­wide, of­fi­cials with Hainan’s forestry de­part­ment said.

Mean­while, Hainan is chang­ing the way it mea­sures its GDP, and now places greater em­pha­sis on its cen­tral coun­ties, in­clud­ing Qiongzhong, Baisha, Wuzhis­han and Baot­ing, which are con­sid­ered core eco­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion zones on the is­land. Mean­while, eco­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion has been made a top pri­or­ity within over­all eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­pre­hen­sive plan for the prov­ince, 2015-30 — which is con­sid­ered a blue­print for over­all de­vel­op­ment and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion — more than 11,535 square kilo­me­ters of land, ac­count­ing for 33.5 per­cent of the is­land’s to­tal area, and an­other 35.1 per­cent of off­shore ar­eas, have been des­ig­nated as ar­eas for spe­cial care and pro­tec­tion.

Liu Cigui, Party sec­re­tary of Hainan, said the prov­ince is on a path toward build­ing an even bet­ter liv­ing space for its res­i­dents, in­clud­ing a foursea­son gar­den get­away and a hol­i­day re­sort for Chi­nese and over­seas tourists un­der the na­tional strat­egy of de­vel­op­ing the trop­i­cal is­land into an in­ter­na­tional tourism is­land des­ti­na­tion.

He said eco­log­i­cal re­sources are Hainan’s “best cap­i­tal”.

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