A win-win project for low-income families and the environment in E China
By Zhao Ying

Changting County in east China's Fujian Province has some of the worst soil erosion in southern China. The red soil on the bare mountains got it the name of "the Flaming Mountains" in the past. According to a remote sensing census in 1985, soil erosion in the county covered nearly 13,000 hectares, accounting for over half of the mountain area. 

To tackle the problem, the local government has planted a large masson pine forest and is preparing to grow a variety of broad-leaved trees as well to improve plant diversity and restore the environment. The trees are resistant to infertile land requiring minimum water and nutrients and can help in the preservation of water and soil.

Zeng Xianchun, 68, is on the way to plant Polygala fallax, a herb that can improve the soil structure of the masson pine forest and make plants grow better. He and his wife have chronic diseases and spend over 10,000 yuan on medicines and medical treatments every year.

For the low-income elderly like Zeng, Polygala fallax is easy to plant. Its leaves and flowers can be made into tea and the roots are used in traditional Chinese medicine, providing a vital source of income. 

The cooperative that he joined has planted over 100 hectares of Polygala fallax. One hectare of the plant can generate about 15,000 yuan in the first year,  increasing to over 75,000 in the fifth year. 

In 2019, there were 86 households like Zeng's taking part in this ecological poverty alleviation project. The medicinal herb not only prevents soil erosion, but also lifts people out of poverty. 

Go green and live rich

Ecological poverty alleviation is a poverty reduction model that combines ecological protection with poverty alleviation. Some areas suffer from poverty due to a harsh natural environment, while some lack the sustainable and scientific use of natural resources. Through participation in ecological protection and the development of ecological industries, villagers can be lifted out of poverty while protecting Mother Nature. This series not only uncovers the stories behind China's poverty alleviation policy, but also displays portraits of ordinary people.

For more: 

Herdsmen go downhill for a better life in a new Xinjiang village

Poverty alleviation in Xinjiang: Why poor families move?

The green eggs that enrich low income family in SW China

Reclusive ethnic villagers lifted out of poverty by protecting nature

(Cover image designed by CGTN's Liu Shaozhen. Video edited by Zhao Ying.)

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at nature@cgtn.com.)