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Green growth raises income, ensures environmental rights of villagers
update:May 27,2021

A photo taken on May 14, 2021, shows the farm stay hotel of Pan Chunlin, a villager of Anji county's Yucun village, in east China's Zhejiang province. [Photo by Chong Yatu/China Pictorial]
May 27, 2021 -- "All of our 23 guest rooms remained occupied during the recent five-day May Day holiday," said Pan Chunlin, who runs a farm stay business in Anji county's Yucun village, east China's Zhejiang province.
The 4.86-square-kilometer village with fresh air, clear rivers, and lush mountains is now a popular tourist attraction and an ideal place for a weekend escape. It is hard to believe that the picturesque village was once a major limestone mining area.
Pan worked as a tractor driver in a nearby mine until the early 2000s. During that time, limestone processing for cement manufacture was the main source of income, and locals reeled under dusty air and risked their health and lives for money, Pan recalls.

Pan Chunlin, a farm stay owner, speaks during an interview at Yucun village in Anji county, east China's Zhejiang province, on May 14, 2021. [Photo by Zhang Liying/China.org.cn]
Suffering immensely from a hard-nosed approach to economic growth at the expense of natural resources and the environment, the villagers decided to transform and shut down all the mines and cement factories by the end of 2004.
Guided by the understanding that "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets," the village has now eased pollution, restored green coverage, and practiced environmental conservation for more than a decade, turning previously heavily polluted mining grounds into scenic areas with beautiful fields and gardens.
The local government helped repair roads, build parking lots, improve power and water supplies, and supported residents in starting an agritainment business. The pleasant environment and upgraded facilities then fueled a tourism boom and generated handsome incomes for villagers.
According to statistics, the collective economic earnings of the village increased from 910,000 yuan in 2005 to 7.24 million yuan in 2020, and the annual per-capita net income multiplied from 8,732 yuan to 55,680 yuan.
"The ecology-based revitalization has changed our lives. Now we earn much more than before and also enjoy the wonderful rural scenery," Pan said.
The growth model of "turning green into gold" has not only guaranteed the villagers' environmental rights and boosted their income but also promoted their responsibilities for the development of their hometown.

A photo taken on May 14, 2021, shows the scenery of Yucun village in Anji county, east China's Zhejiang province. [Photo by Zhang Liying/China.org.cn]
Last year, 24 homestay hotels in the village established an alliance to enhance coordination, standardize services, and better meet the demands of visitors.
Looking forward, Pan said he will continue to extend his business and management knowledge and learn how to customize rural experience products for various groups.
"I would also like to tell the story of our village's transformation from an area dependent on mining into a more environmentally friendly model based on tourism and a call for more efforts to prioritize ecological conservation," he said.
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