‘Mi­gra­tory birds’ put an end to old ways

China Daily - - HOLIDAY | TRAVEL -

As­mall fish that lo­cals catch in the sub­ter­ranean rivers is re­garded as a del­i­cacy af­ter be­ing fried in its own fat. The price has in­creased more than 10 times since my first visit to Bama in 2013, be­cause it has al­most van­ished now.

I have been to Bama three times, and it was nois­ier and more crowded on the sec­ond visit than it was on the first, and even more so on my third visit.

The com­ing of vis­i­tors, es­pe­cially the “mi­gra­tory birds”, rep­re­sents a sta­ble source of rev­enue for the lo­cals.

But a big con­cern of the longevity vil­lages, which are con­cen­trated in the val­ley along the Panyang River, is how to dis­pose of the sewage and solid waste, which have in­creased rapidly with the grow­ing num­ber of “mi­gra­tory birds”.

Although the county govern­ment ar­ranges for trucks to carry the solid waste to a refuse pro­cess­ing plant in the town, some garbage is di­rectly burned by lo­cal dust­men in the dust­bins on the side of the road in the moun­tains. The pun­gent smoke is re­pul­sive and can be smelled miles away from where it is be­ing burned.

And some ea­ter­ies and home­s­tays di­rectly dis­charge waste into the sim­ple sewer sys­tem that goes di­rectly into the Panyang River.

Although lo­cals ad­mit the en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns must be ad­dressed as soon as pos­si­ble, the vis­i­tors have made it im­pos­si­ble for the lo­cals to re­turn to the old way of life in the county.

Now al­most all fam­i­lies are en­gaged in busi­nesses re­lated to tourism, which has seen their in­comes in­crease over the past decade.

Bama’s pop­u­lar­ity has at­tracted more than 60 bil­lion yuan ($9.53 bil­lion) in in­vest­ments since 2016. Hope­fully, some of that in­vest­ment will be used for en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion.

The county govern­ment should set a ceil­ing on the num­ber of vis­i­tors each year based on car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment. This will ben­e­fit Bama in the long run.

Also, the com­mer­cial ex­ploita­tion of the min­eral water in Bama must be planned, if not con­trolled, care­fully.

There are al­ready 13 bot­tled water com­pa­nies in Bama, with an out­put of 1.23 bil­lion yuan last year, up 10.8 per­cent year-on-year.

Once the ground­wa­ter low­ers to a cer­tain level, it is very dif­fi­cult to re­cover and will trig­ger a chain re­ac­tion in the lo­cal ecosys­tem.

Con­tact the writer at liyang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Li Yang

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