Ecological Protection Practice in Ankang, Shaanxi Province

2017-08-29 14:00:47 , Source : The Government Website of Shaanxi Province

Ankang City of Shaanxi Province has been always regarded as a water source conservation area of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project, the concentrated destitute areas in Qinling-Bashan Mountainous Areas, a biodiversity ecological function area of Qinling-Bashan and an old liberated area of Sichuan and Shaanxi, whose series of labels, however, can only imply its poverty and backwardness.

Nevertheless, Ankang City has still achieved an amazing development in recent years: five major economic indicators in 2015 were leading in Shaanxi; six indicators including GDP growth in 2016 took the first place province-wide. In the first half of this year, Ankang ranked top 1 in the Poverty Alleviation Program of Shaanxi.

How did Ankang, featured with “Clear River and Green Mountain” break through the tight encirclement of thousands of mountains to get a “Gold Hill and Silver Hill” and successfully become a “New Highland” for the growth of the Western China?

The reporter who surveyed in Ankang found that the development concept of Ankang changed from “Gold Hill and Silver Hill” outweighing “Clear River and Green Mountain”, to the tangled choice between the former and the latter, to the practical application of “Clear River and Green Mountain is the Gold Hill and Silver Hill”, which reflected the direction and path for the transformation and upgrading of China's economy.

It is just in the pursuit of innovation and changes of ideas and entrepreneurship, that Ankang explored a sustainable new development road for “Ecological Economy and Economic Ecology” of the less-developed area in comparison with “Five Development Concepts” of Chinese Communist Party Central Committee.

Ecological bonus: “Gold and silver mine “ flows from the clear water while large industry grows from “green mountains”.

These were the development achievements made by Ankang City under the declining pressure of the economy last year—

In 2016, GDP of Ankang rose by 11.3%, increasing 3.7% and 4.6% compared with the GDP growth rate of Shaanxi Province and the whole country, respectively. Its 6 indicators, i.e. GDP, secondary industrial added value, above-scale industrial added value, disposable income per capita of rural residents, general public budget revenue growth and the proportion of non-public economic added value in GDP, in total ranked the first in Shaanxi.

In this regard, Guo Qing, the secretary of the Ankang municipal Party Committee said that the size of Ankang’s economy was not large; however, it was not easy for Ankang as a “Four-label Area” including Sichuan-Shaanxi revolutionary bases to accomplish such achievements. “Especially under the premise that the output value of tens of billions Yuan was reduced last year”.

The so-called “reduced output value of tens of billions Yuan” is just our determination to “cut the wrist like a brave warrior” for the high pollution industry. Ankang implemented a negative list of industrial access and established a prerequisite for introduction of enterprises and project construction, such as the environmental capacities, resource use and economized and intensive land uses and the implementation rate of environmental impact assessment and the “Three Simultaneous Steps “ was 100%. During the “Twelfth Five-Year Plan”, more than 300 high energy consumption and high-pollution enterprises were cumulatively closed, which directly reduced the industrial output value of Ankang by RMB 30 billion Yuan.

However, the ecological industries replacing the closed “High energy consumption and high pollution enterprises” has brought new driving forces for development. Ankang fully utilized the basic elements of mountains, water and people to promote the simultaneous development of economic reproduction and ecological reproduction, and promote eco-friendly industries up to a new level, such as selenium-enriched industries, eco-tourism and water-related industries.

“I want to tell a story.” Guo Qing said, “Our selenium-rich tea has a history of thousands of years, and the output value in 2016 has reached 4.16 billion Yuan, but there is another industry with greater potential than this green industry. It is the packaged drinking water industry having developed for only two or three years though, the output value has reached RMB 460 million Yuan in the first quarter of this year. It is predicted that the total output values of the new industry may exceed the selenium-rich tea with development of a thousand year in next year. This comparison shows that the development of eco-economic development for the selenium-rich water having been ignored for many years, just like a gold mine has limitless charms and potential.

Not only the packaged drinking water, the ecological forestry, ecological agriculture, eco-tourism and other industries are growing. In Huangu Town, the “Top 1 Se-rich Town” in Ziyang County, there are lush selenium-rich tea gardens along both sides of Hanjiang River. But a few years ago, a lot of factories and mine enterprises were also located here, which presented threats to the water source conservation areas of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project.

“Nowadays, the economy of the whole town has transformed into the ecological agriculture integrating three industries.” Cai Yinghong, the secretary of the Party committee of the town told the reporter that there were totally 28,000 mu of tea gardens, of which 7,000 mu were newly established and total 8 kinds of tea were planted in 11 villages and the tea income accounted for 70% of total revenues.

In recent years, Huangu Town introduced two large and middle-size tea enterprises. With the cooperation pattern of “leading enterprise +farmers +bases”, the total output values in 2016 reached up to RMB 170 million Yuan and the incomes of tea industry rapidly were increased by 70%.

“With the introduction of large enterprises, the traditional operation mode of tea farmers has been transformed. Tea services teams were established in all villages of the town to provide field management, prevention and control of fertilization and other technical guidance, the enterprises were responsible for acquisition and developing summer and autumn teas on basis of the traditional spring teas, thus tea farmers would work in three seasons of a whole year, which extended the industrial chain”, Liu Xiaobin, a leader of a local tea enterprise said.

It is not only Huangu Town that has the selenium-rich feature. 2/3 of the soil in Ankang is rich in selenium, the selenium content for 54% of the soil is above medium level of selenium and thus it is the largest and most suitable natural selenium enrichment area for development and utilization.

“Selenium-rich” is a health brand for the development of ecological agriculture of Ankang.” Ankang municipal Committee Luo Xuejian said, “after years of research and development, selenium-rich tea, selenium-rich giant arum and selenium-rich pork and other products have successively been afforded by ordinary people. Presently, the selenium industry has become a pillar industry for the economic development of Ankang and a good business card for Ankang”.

Moreover, the selenium-rich industry has become a powerful starting point for farmers of Ankang to get rid of poverty. As introduced by Zhang Lijun, a deputy director of Ankang Selenium-rich Products Research & Development Center, presently over 60% per capital net income of farmers in Ankang came from selenium-rich featured planting and breeding industry while over 70% of the poor people relied on the selenium industry to get rid of poverty.

The eco-friendly industries featured in green, recycling and low-carbon, such as the development of the selenium-rich industry, eco-tourism, mountain forestry economy, water-related industry, labor-intensive industry, accounted for 65% of Ankang’s GDP, of which selenium-rich industry has been growing at a ultra high speed by 30% year after year and become top 1 industry among the eco-friendly industries of Ankang.

The way of transformation: from the “multiple choice” to “four arithmetic operations”

On the one hand, because any careless mistakes regarding the environmental protection or occasional environmental events are likely to evolve into regional and even national issues, Ankang as a source of water conservation in the middle line of the South-to-North Water Project must faithfully implement the major task of “supply clear water to Beijing”. On the other hand, the environment is a basic protection for people’s livelihood. Ankang will be benefited mostly from protection of the local landscape and economic growth must not rely on destroying ecological environment, which is a big issue about the development concept and political achievements concept.

How to give up the “multiple choice” and explore the way of “Clear River and Green Mountain is just the Gold Hill and Silver Hill”? To this end, Ankang presented a set of combined ways of transferring stocks, optimizing increments, controlling total amounts and reduction for replacement and carried out the four arithmetical operations, grasped energy-saving in key areas and units to continuously decreasing main pollutant emissions; meanwhile, speeded up culturing and expanding the green industry to replace traditional development ways.

Nowadays, a good circulation of “people supports mountains while mountains support people” and “water supports people while people supports water” has been established gradually in Ankang, being out of the misunderstanding of “good ecological conditions are equal to slow development and poor commons”. And it will build a recycling industry system always as lifeblood for promoting green development and speeding up transformation of economic development.

Located in the northern foot of Bashan Mountain, Zhanwang Village, Nangongshan Town, Langao County is featured with high mountains, deep sleep and bad natural conditions. Since 2010, Langao County organized development of mountain forestry economics. Since then, Zhanwang Village started planting fast-growing kiri trees. At present, there are 6,500 mu kiri trees in the whole village, which gradually become an industry of the village. 2.7 cubic meters of woods from an acre of land per year, the purchase price per cubic meter is 500 Yuan together with 300 Yuan per ton of branches and leaves, therefore, farmers can achieve over 2,000 Yuan per mu each year and thus the barren hills have been converted into Gold Hill and Silver Hills for the masses to get rid of poverty.

The benefits are very different from the same mountains and water. Ankang has established a complete system through economical society development led by ecological civilization, solidified the target system with “Five Significant Improvement” of green advantages, comprehensive strength, urban functions, people's well-being and civilization level, successively issued over 20 system documents to develop high quality development, good ecology and beautiful environment, such as “Opinions on Implementation of the Pilot Demonstration Area of National Main Function Area” and “Advice on Applying the Strictest Water Resources Management System”, etc..

“Trees of 5 years planted in one year while woods of three generations created by one generation”, Guoqing described what endeavor have made by Ankang.

With implementation of natural forest protection, the Yangtze River shelterbelt and a new round of returning farmland to forest land project, speed up the afforestation project in key areas, such as greening of Hanjiang River and “Three Along-sides and Three Sides”, etc.. During “the Twelfth Five-Year Plan”, Ankang completed 3.26 million mu of afforestation, among of which total 680,000 mu has been completed in 2016 and the forest coverage rate of Ankang reached up to 65%. The water quality of Hanjiang River has always been stable to maintain the national II standards.

In 2016, the comprehensive indexes of Ankang's ambient air quality ranked first in the province, and the freshwater share per capita is 1.6 times of that of the whole country. Ankang has become an ideal place for tourism, health and ecological pension and has been identified as a national pilot city integrating medical services and health and the unique pilot city for ecological pension in Shaanxi Province.

The restoration of the ecological environment makes ecotourism revitalizing. In recent years, Ankang City strengthened the global and integration concept of development, highlighted updating and construction of scenery spots including “One River & Two Sides” of the central city, Yinghu Cultural & Tourism Industry Base, Qinling Mountains and Bashan Mountain and others, speeded up promoting Hanjiang River Ecological Tourism Zone, Yuehe Chuandao Modern Agricultural Leisure Park and Cultural Tourism Featured Little Towns, rural tourism and other key projects and gradually became a hot spot for investment and development.

Settlement Method: Planting and breeding industries concentrated in the County, processing in “the Flying Lands” and the markets in the all fields

This seems to be an unbearable development barrier - in Ankang, the restricted development area and the prohibited development area exceed 90% of the total area, and 9 of the 10 counties in the whole region are included in the restricted eco-functional areas list, where large-scale high-intensity industrialization and urbanization development are restricted.

In view of the land use constraints for many mountainous counties and cities, how to break through the restrictions to achieve economic development while retaining the red line for the ecological protection?

To this end, Ankang carried out a series of exploration activities. Firstly, it reconstructs and improves the regional planning of ecological and economic development, reforms the regional ecological function management mechanism, and effectively accelerates the transformation of development mode and improves the efficiency of space utilization. At present, “Three Districts & Two Parks”, focusing on Ankang High-tech Zone, Hengkou Demonstration Area, Yinghu Lake Tourist Area and county industrial parks and modern agriculture parks have become a powerful engine to promote the development of Ankang, where Ankang High-tech Zone has been upgraded to a unique state-level high-tech zone in Qinling-Bashan Mountainousarea.

On the other hand, Ankang also built a differentiated assessment system in view of the reality of large differences in resource endowments. At present, the districts and counties of the whole city has been divided into recycling economy development area, key ecological protection area and gathering development area, vigorously promote “one policy for one county”, issued Suggestions on Development led by Hanbin District and Opinions on First Development of Xunyang and other documents, focused on promoting the Han Yin Se-enriched foods, Shiquan eco-tourism, Langao forestry economy, Beautiful Rural Areas of Pingli and Zhenping Herbal Medicines of featured industries of the county. The county economy accounted for 70% of the city's economy, which promoted the optimization of resource utilization and maximization of overall functions.

More importantly, Ankang, adhering to the concept of “Global Well-being”, introduced and created a unique economy mode and implemented the principle of “Point Development and Area Protection”.

It was learned that Ankang broke through the administrative division restriction of counties and districts with the two economic parks planned in Ankang High-tech Zone and Hengkou Demonstration Area, guided the development-restricted counties with less spaces to concentrate major projects to Yuehe Chuandao through cooperation mechanisms, such as planning, construction, management and benefits distribution and project guidance, etc., strengthen regional coordination and optimization of industrial layout and innovated regional ecological function management mechanism.

“Our bases are located in the county while businesses and markets are located in the city.” Hu Kui, the “Flying Land” Office of Zhenping County said. Zhenping County introduced 3 large-scale enterprises with investment scales over RMB 1 billion Yuan in nearly one year, where production capacity of the traditional Chinese medicine formula particles project will be over 1.5 billion packets after the completion and it is anticipated that the output value will be 2 billion Yuan with profits and taxes of 800 million Yuan after 5 years when this project is put into production. It can’t be imagine if it is implemented by the County as before.

At present, the “Flying Land Parks” constructed in Yuehe Chuandao by Baihe, Ziyang, Langao, Ningshan and Zhenping Counties of Ankang have been determined as major Intra-county Industry Concentration Areas in Shaanxi Province. The development mode of “Planting and Breeding in Counties, Processing and Manufacturing in ‘Flying Lands’ while Distribution Markets in the Whole Area” has been established. The benefits have been closely linked between different counties and upstream and downstream industries and the achievement and development of “Flying-out Lands” and “Flying-in Lands” with achievements sharing.

“The ‘Flying land economy’ has become a new-type industrial highland, employment and entrepreneurial platform, foreign exchange window and benchmark of innovation”, Wang Lin, vice secretary of the Party Working Committee of Ankang High-tech Zone said.

The Road to Benefit People: Let “poverty alleviation chains” to be linked by “characteristics industry chains”

Ecological protection is a major national policy, but the realities show that ecological protection from which people cannot be benefited will lose power and become unsustainable.

As to the benefits arising from the ecological development in recent years, the achievements are as follows: total 423,300 poor populations during the “Twelfth Five-Year Plan” and 136,700 populations in 2016 got out of poverty. In 2016, the net income per capita of farmers was 8590 Yuan, which increased by 8.6%, and the growth rate ranked first in Shaanxi Province. Ankang ranked the first in the poverty alleviation performance evaluation of Shaanxi in the first half of this year.

How Ankang ranked ahead in poverty relief assessment as a mountain city? It was found by the reporter in survey that Ankang closely linked characteristic industry chains with poverty relief chains, concentrated positive energies for precision poverty relief at most and explored and established a mode of precision poverty relief.

In Hanbin District, Ankang, the reporter reviewed Ankang Yangchen Company’s precise industrial poverty alleviation assistance plan with 10 items which closely was written with assistance measures as follows: “total 3795 people from 1050 households have been out of poverty from 2016 to 2018…solved traffic difficulties of Lijiazui Village, Changzheng Village and Liujiagou Village…provided technical trainings to the poor households to make them masterly grasping farming skills…”

Fan Chuanbin, the District Mayor of Hanbin District explained that as one of national key agricultural industrialization leading enterprises, Yangchen Company with a total asset of RMB 1.34 billion Yuan takes pig breeding as the leading industry, the ecological recycling as a development direction within the large agricultural frame of “pigs, marsh gas, vegetables and fruits”, so as to build a modern agricultural park uniquely featured in various kinds of areas in South of Shaanxi Province and significant leading and demonstration effects. More importantly, with the poverty alleviation model of “party branches + leading enterprises + poor households” and relying on the leading industry, Yangchen Company speeded up the pace of poverty alleviation and assist poor households to get rid of poverty through employment in infrastructures construction, trees and flowers planting, pig breeding and other measures.

Guo Qing believed that the construction of ecological civilization was a revolution involving the revolutionary changes of production methods, lifestyles, ways of thinking and values; it did not completely rely on transformation of one industry or one measure, but needed systematic and long-term efforts for the work.

Urban and rural economy becomes beautiful due to the environment while the masses become rich due to ecology. “Theory of Two Mounts” described a new sample for the development of the less developed area and the ecological economy becomes a new driving force for activating advantages of Ankang in lagging development. In future, Ankang proposed a goal of construction of “An Ecological Economy City in Western China”. On basis of the current ecological industry, Ankang will focus on big health and big logistics and other newly-emerging industries.

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