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April 3, 2020

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Roads lined with flowers: village finds new way of life

Benefiting from environmental protection, Yucun Village in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province has found the secret to sustainable prosperity.

About 15 years ago, it was hard to imagine that the village could now have a beautiful country road with flowers lining either side, become a national tourist attraction and attract hundreds of thousands of tourists.

The village achieved rapid development by running a cement factory and mining industries but suffered from severe pollution.

“We hesitated on whether or not to shut down the factory,” said Jiang Zhihua, a villager who worked at the plant. “Although it brought income to almost every household in the village, we all lived in a hostile environment where dust hovered in the air and some villagers even had pneumoconiosis.”

The village decided to focus on environmental protection and choose a pace of sustainable development and has undergone unprecedented changes since then.

It shut down mining and other industries that caused pollution and started to develop tourism. In 2018, it was listed as a 4A class tourist attraction, the second-best rating on the country’s five-level system.

No garbage or trash cans can be seen from the road in the village. “The village has practiced garbage classification, and household garbage is collected and transported by designated personnel regularly,” said Hu Bin, a villager in Yucun.

“More than 800,000 tourists visit our village each year,” said Jiang. “The beautiful environment has brought us wealth.” Tourism has become a pillar of the village, which has 280 households and 1,050 villagers.

Pan Chunlin was a tractor driver working for a stone mine in the village. He opened the village’s first travel agency after the mine was closed. “People in cities love our vegetables such as bamboo shoots,” he said.

From 2005 to 2019, the village’s collective economic income rose from 910,000 yuan (US$128,270) to 5.21 million yuan, and the per capita net income increased from 8,732 yuan to 49,598 yuan.

“We respect nature. And nature will never mistreat us,” said a villager surnamed Gu.


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