Lin’an: A Model for Eco-vil­lages

Lin’an has built 120 eco-vil­lages, mak­ing it a leader in de­vel­op­ing an eco­log­i­cal coun­try­side.

China Pictorial (English) - - Front Page - Text by Guan Guangqian and Zhang Xue Car­ing for the En­vi­ron­ment In 2017, Lin’an un­veiled Zhe­jiang

As an old say­ing goes, Lin’an Dis­trict in Hangzhou, Zhe­jiang Prov­ince, fea­tures “ninety per­cent moun­tains, five per­cent rivers and five per­cent farm­land.” The lush veg­e­ta­tion cov­er­ing Tianmu Moun­tain and the streams feed­ing Taihu Lake be­stow on the dis­trict in north­west­ern Zhe­jiang stun­ning nat­u­ral scenery.

In re­cent years, by fol­low­ing the idea that “clear waters and lush moun­tains are in­valu­able as­sets,” Lin’an has be­come com­mit­ted to fos­ter­ing a new green en­vi­ron­ment, green in­dus­try, green com­mu­ni­ties and green cul­ture. It has in­vested 3.6 bil­lion yuan (US$562 mil­lion) to build 120 eco-vil­lages.

The dis­trict has earned prizes and ti­tles such as “China Ex­em­plary Liv­ing En­vi­ron­ment Award,” one of the “Top 10 Liv­able Eco-cities” and one of the “Most Beau­ti­ful Towns in China,” in­ject­ing even greater mo­men­tum into the de­vel­op­ment of eco-tourism and eco-agri­cul­ture.

Prov­ince’s first Scenic Vil­lage Stan­dards, which ad­dressed house­hold sewage treat­ment, garbage clas­si­fi­ca­tion and road con­struc­tion. The dis­trict planned to build 30 ru­ral scenic re­sorts over the next few years to drive the up­grade of the beau­ti­ful coun­try­side.

Last year, Lin’an in­vested 450 mil­lion yuan (US$70 mil­lion) to build 10 scenic vil­lages in­clud­ing Yueliangqiao Vil­lage at the foot of Tianmu Moun­tain. The vil­lage is tak­ing on a whole new look: Ren­o­vated res­i­dences with white walls and black-tiled roofs are com­ple­mented by idyl­lic 3D mu­rals, giv­ing the vil­lage an el­e­gant am­biance. Di­lap­i­dated houses were de­mol­ished and con­verted into gar­dens, pub­lic toi­lets, gro­cery stores, ope­nair tea bars and cin­e­mas. Once hope­less­look­ing street cor­ners were trans­formed with flower beds en­cir­cled by cob­ble­stones, and the 70-hectare bam­boo grove along the stream out­side the vil­lage will soon re­ceive an in­jec­tion of flow­ers and fruits.

Lin’an is home to the source of Taihu Lake, so wa­ter re­source con­ser­va­tion is a key com­po­nent of the dis­trict’s eco­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion. A lo­cal en­ter­prise de­voted to en­vi­ron­men­tal im­prove­ment, Lin’an Dan­jing En­vi­ron­men­tal En­gi­neer­ing Co., Ltd. has car­ried out ex­ten­sive tech­ni­cal co­op­er­a­tion with Zhe­jiang Re­search Academy of En­vi­ron­men­tal Sciences, North­east­ern Univer­sity and other re­search in­sti­tu­tions to de­velop a ru­ral sewage treat­ment reg­u­la­tion plat­form uti­liz­ing wire­less In­ter­net of Things (IOT) tech­nol­ogy, which can achieve re­mote mon­i­tor­ing of the op­er­a­tion and per­for­mance of sewage treat­ment sys­tems.

Huanhu Vil­lage in Ban­qiao Town set up the dis­trict’s first vil­lage-level smart garbage clas­si­fi­ca­tion and collection sta­tion. Again uti­liz­ing IOT tech­nol­ogy, the sta­tion can re­motely mon­i­tor all dis­charge of clas­si­fied garbage and au­to­mat­i­cally award points to vil­lagers who prop­erly im­ple­ment garbage clas­si­fi­ca­tion. Most of the sta­tion’s mon­i­tor­ing equip­ment has al­ready been in­stalled.

A Place Like Home

A stream snakes around craggy rocks in a tran­quil val­ley near the source of Taihu Lake in Linmu, Lin’an Dis­trict. Baisha Vil­lage, known as the “first vil­lage for ru­ral tourism in China,” is hid­den deep in the val­ley.

Ac­cord­ing to Wei Jin, for­mer head of Lin’an Com­mis­sion of Ru­ral Af­fairs, from “rent­ing moun­tain­ous land” in the 1980s and “sell­ing for­est prod­ucts” in the 1990s to “de­vel­op­ing ru­ral tourism” in the 21st cen­tury, Baisha Vil­lage is the trend­set­ter of ru­ral de­vel­op­ment in Lin’an.

Lin’an now has a Na­tional Recre­ational Tourist Vil­lage, 13 pro­vin­cial-level Tourist Vil­lages, 17 mu­nic­i­pal-level Tourist Vil­lages and 39 dis­trict-level Tourist Vil­lages, col­lec­tively of­fer­ing a to­tal of 27,000 beds. Tourists can taste ru­ral food, stay in au­then­tic vil­lage res­i­dences and ex­pe­ri­ence real ru­ral life­styles.

Baisha Vil­lage is far from the only scenic vil­lage in Lin’an. In Sun­jia Vil­lage of Changhua Town, one is likely to en­counter

an American in his fifties bi­cy­cling along the moun­tain path. His name is Bob, and he works in Hangzhou. Two years ago, he first dis­cov­ered the vil­lage dur­ing a bi­cy­cling trip. At the first sight, its mur­mur­ing streams, lush woods, and res­i­dences with white walls and red-ti­tled roofs tugged at his heart. “This beau­ti­ful vil­lage is iden­ti­cal to my home­town,” Bob says. “I stopped ped­al­ing and had to stay.”

The fol­low­ing week­end, Bob came back to the vil­lage. He spent 200,000 yuan (US$31,000) rent­ing a house from a lo­cal vil­lager and set­tled there. “In­ter­net+” Eco-vil­lages

As the dis­trict works hard to pro­mote the eco-econ­omy and re­vi­tal­ize ru­ral de­vel­op­ment, en­hanc­ing agri­cul­tural ef­fi­ciency and in­creas­ing farm­ers’ in­come have be­come a new mis­sion for Lin’an in the process of build­ing a beau­ti­ful coun­try­side in the new era.

In re­cent years, in­vig­o­rat­ing agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment with any avail­able tech­nol­ogy has be­come the fo­cus of the dis­trict’s strat­egy for de­vel­op­ing the ru­ral econ­omy.

Along­side eco­log­i­cal and cir­cu­lar agri­cul­ture demon­stra­tion projects, Lin’an has fos­tered 845 new busi­ness en­ti­ties such as fam­ily farms and ru­ral fam­ily ho­tels. In 2016, the dis­trict earned 13.82 bil­lion yuan (US$2.15 bil­lion) from tourism, an in­crease of 139.4 per­cent com­pared to 2011. Many vil­lagers through­out Lin’an be­gan sell­ing for­est prod­ucts such as hick­ory nuts on­line. So far, six towns and 22 vil­lages in the dis­trict are known for op­er­at­ing on­line shops on Taobao.com, China’s lead­ing e-com­merce site, rank­ing Lin’an among “China’s Top 100 E-com­merce Coun­ties/dis­tricts” for three con­sec­u­tive years. In 2017, its ru­ral ar­eas re­al­ized on­line sales vol­ume to­tal­ing 3 bil­lion yuan (US$468 mil­lion).

Bainiu Vil­lage set a shin­ing ex­am­ple for ru­ral e-com­merce de­vel­op­ment in Lin’an. In 2012, the vil­lage be­came one of the first to be cited as a “Taobao Vil­lage” due to its star­tling on­line sales of nuts. In 2014, Wang Yang, vice pre­mier of the State Coun­cil of China, vis­ited the vil­lage dur­ing an in­spec­tion tour. Over years, the vil­lage has es­tab­lished it­self as a leg­end of ru­ral e-com­merce.

Many other vil­lages in Lin’an have fol­lowed in Bainiu’s foot­steps, sell­ing their agri­cul­tural prod­ucts on­line, in­clud­ing sweet pota­toes from Tianmu Moun­tain, fresh bam­boo shoots at the source of Taihu Lake, and alpine veg­eta­bles in Gao­hong area. Th­ese prod­ucts are so pop­u­lar with on­line shop­pers that the sup­ply falls far short of the ex­plo­sive de­mand. For in­stance, sweet pota­toes from Lin’an still sell out rapidly ev­ery time they’re of­fered de­spite a tripled price.

Wang Yun­jie, a na­tive of Ziyou Vil­lage in the dis­trict’s Yuqian Town, is a fore­fa­ther of the sweet potato busi­ness in Lin’an. In 2002, he con­tracted 0.6 hectares of farm­land from his vil­lage to grow sweet pota­toes. Over the fol­low­ing 15 years, he has cre­ated a mir­a­cle by ex­pand­ing his sweet potato plant­ing busi­ness to 12 prov­inces, with an an­nual out­put to­tal­ing 1,000 tons.

“Over the last five years, the price of sweet pota­toes has surged with each pass­ing year,” Wang grins. “Even deal­ers them­selves ask me to raise the whole­sale prices. Cur­rently, about half of the sweet pota­toes I grow are sold on­line.” Even a con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mate would tally at least 1,000 on­line sweet potato sell­ers in Lin’an, ac­cord­ing to Wang.

Dubbed the “home of hick­ory nuts,” Lin’an boasts a 500-year his­tory of plant­ing and pro­cess­ing hick­ory. Dur­ing har­vest sea­son in Septem­ber, lo­cal vil­lagers dry hick­ory nuts on the ground. VCG

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