CHINA / Regional

Cities strive to balance environment, development
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-05-16 07:36

XI'AN: Poverty-stricken farmers and the ecological environment in an area of Shaanxi are set to benefit from a range of new measures.

Zhang Wei, a vice-governor in charge of an anti-poverty drive in the inland province in Northwest China, said the Qinling Mountain area would see a range of improvements in the coming years.

"In the period of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10), we will focus our efforts to help poor farmers living in the mountainous region and at the same time protect the ecological environment there," he said.

Though economic development and environmental protection can sometimes be contradictory, especially in less developed regions such as Shaanxi, the local government hopes to benefit both by taking extensive measures, the vice-governor said.

The local governments of Shangluo, Ankang and Hanzhong, which are located around the mountain, are currently working on green projects to improve the local economic development.

"We are making efforts to produce more than 1,500 kinds of local products such as walnut, Chinese chestnut, persimmon and edible fungus, which will give local farmers more income and provide better protection to the ecological environment," said Shangluo Mayor Wei Zengjun.

Shangluo has about 500,000 people, about one-fifth of its total population, living without enough food and clothing.

The local government plans to improve their living conditions by developing industries of Chinese medicines, tea, wine, food and tourism with them, the mayor said.

Like Shangluo, Hanzhong and Ankang are also carrying out such projects, Zhang said.

Qinling Mountain has one of the richest areas of wildlife in China, according to Hang Wenxuan, an official with Shaanxi Provincial Environment Protection Bureau.

With a total area of 57,900 square kilometres, the mountain is China's main water resource for the central line of the South-North Water Diversion Project, the official said.

But in the past 50 years, the environment in Qinling Mountain has been damaged with economic development and increasing human activities.