China — The expanding forest in Beijing’s northwest not only shields the city from sand and dust, but also creates jobs.
To better protect the forest against destruction and fire hazards, Yanqing county is paying park rangers to guard the area.
Many villagers have taken jobs as rangers or have joined maintenance crews, in addition to working their farms, said Jia Deyong, a spokesman for Yanqing government.
Of the 95,700 laborers in the county, 27,800 have taken “green jobs”, such as forest rangers, patrol officers or on public facilities maintenance crews, Jia said.
“Along with the expansion of green coverage and increased afforestation, ecological employment has become a major channel of employment,” he said.
The jobs have been well received by villagers, said Zhu Xuesong, a spokeswoman for the county’s Zhangshanying town.
She said the town has come up with 8,900 positions for forest rangers, whose duties include forest fire prevention, forest tending and forest conservation. Each villager will be paid an allowance of 440 yuan ($70) a month for their contribution.
“I walk uphill every day to make sure no one damages the trees, as well as remove the hidden dangers of forest fire,” said town resident Zhang Shunli. “It’s daily physical exercise and I’m paid for it.”
According to Zhu, since 2005 the increased forest coverage has created more jobs in the town and the annual per capita income has risen from 3,000 to 9,000 yuan ($480 to $1,440).
In the past, residents used to travel downtown to find work, such as on construction sites or as security guards, leaving the forest unattended. However, now more residents, mostly in their 40s and 50s, prefer settling down where they were born and looking after the forest home, said Zhu.
– Zheng Xin The failure was in the forest areas.Advertisement
Following a 10-year strategy, ACT fire managers have created a mosaic across the landscape of different fuel levels, burning at every opportunity.
But forests have been too wet to burn this spring and the past two summers.
A network of 500 fire trails and strategic burns along the north-west urban edge, heavy grazing and extra grass slashing will create a fortress for the territory which forecasters say faces a higher than average risk this summer.
After a fire-fuelled tornado in January 2003 killed four Canberrans and frightened thousands more, CSIRO fire expert Phil Cheney told the subsequent inquiry the fire’s penetration into urban areas under extreme conditions did not reflect a failure of fuel management on the urban interface.