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21:40 Sep 29 2011

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English>>Tibet Online
Nyingchi forest rangers protect the land (3)
10:01, July 16, 2010  

Baizhen, who usually visits the forests under her management for more than 300 days a year, said even the forestry officials would frequently receive threats from the thieves.

She recalled that several years ago when they seized a batch of illegally-cut wood at a checkpoint, the law breakers vowed to take revenge on them, and threatened that they "will pick up the children for you" as they know where the children studied.

Regarding the job's high risk, Baizhen said the county buys personal insurance for all 873 forest rangers in Gongbujiada County.

In fact, not only the rangers are involved in protecting the forest. Each and every resident in Gongbujiada is supposed to keep an eye on the surrounding trees which cover an area of 369,600 hectares.

Starting in 2007, the county has prohibited any form of deforestation, which severed the source of income of some people, and brought inconveniences to residences once allowed to cut wood to keep themselves warm.

However, Baizhen said a certain sum of money has since been extended to each family as an energy subsidy, to encourage forest protection. Now each family can receive 114 yuan (16.81 US dollars) per month from the government.

"We inherit the mountains and trees from our ancestors," Baizhen said, "If we only employed a few forest rangers and gave them high salaries, it would not be enough. Everyone's participation is necessary."

Besides protection efforts, the county also aims to add more trees to its territory. In the past several years, it has seen an increase of 44,000 mu forest on the land which lies at more than 3,400 meters above sea level.

The rigorous control over exploiting natural resources has brought substantial benefits to Gongbujiada and its people.

"In the past when the county suffered from the excessive cutting of trees, the forestry officials were not welcomed when we visited the forest area. People knew that our appearance indicated that their penalty was coming," Baizhen recalled, "But now things have been totally different. It is us who are giving people money and creating opportunities to make money."

Although the "no deforestation order" has saved the local environment, it was a fatal blow to local revenues since forestry was once a pillar industry for Gongbujiada and the whole Nyingchi area. Fortunately, local tourism has been booming since the Qinghai-Tibet Railway opened in July 2006, and is a rising industry of the remote place which is 450 kilometers away from Lhasa, capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region.

Figures from the county's tourism bureau showed that it earned 30 million yuan (almost 4.5 million US dollars) from tourism in 2006 and the annual income doubled the next year. In the first half of this year, tourism revenue has hit 58 million yuan (8.5 million US dollars).

Baizhen said they are applying for more country-level natural reserve areas. She believed more people will choose to travel in her county to experience the untouched forests.

Source: CRI online

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