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Environmental education regenerated

Environmental education regenerated

Updated: 2012-03-16 08:02

By Tan Zongyang and Hu Meidong in Changting, Fujian (China Daily)

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Eleven years ago, Chen Zhibiao, a student at the College of Geographical Sciences of Fujian Normal University, chose to stay in Changting to conduct his doctoral research.

Chen, who was 39 at the time, said the decision was inspired by the province's commitment to solving the soil erosion problem in the area.

Conditions were tough, but he persisted in his survey of slump gullies caused by intensive rainfall and in collecting soil examples from the barren hills along a river in Hetian, a small town that accounted for about a third of the eroded land in Changting county.

"The fieldwork was dangerous because landslides often occurred, but it was well worth the effort," Chen said.

After four years' research, Chen wrote his doctoral dissertation about the rehabilitation of eroded granite mountainous regions. But his work in turn inspired his university, which established a center for scientific research in Changting in 2003.

The center later became a think tank and underpinned the county's efforts to control soil erosion with scientific advice.

The center has attracted 12 PhD candidates and more than 40 postgraduates to conduct research on site. It has also achieved academic success based on research in Changting, such as how to improve fertilization of pine trees for afforestation.

Researchers also spread ideas to help agriculture. They advised villagers to plant grass on extremely steep slopes instead of trees, as grass could also be used to feed their livestock, and in turn the animals' manure could be used to fertilize the hills.

"It was a win-win strategy," Chen said. "The experts provide intellectual and technical support, while we also learn from local people's experience in the fields, and we create a knowledge base that can be shared with other regions."

Environmental education regenerated

Above: The barren hills of Chetian village in Hetian town, Changting county, Fujian province, in 2005. Below: As a result of water and soil erosion control, the hills of Chetian village were transformed into orchards in 2009. [Provided to China Daily] 

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