Profile: A ranger couple's 23-year dedication to shield northern forest farm
SHIJIAZHUANG, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Distant from the hustle and bustle of modern society, a lonely white lookout tower is nestled deep in the Saihanba mechanized forest farm. The three-story architecture is where ranger Liu Jun and his wife Wang Juan work and live.
Though having different job titles during their 23-year service in the farm in the northernmost part of north China's Hebei Province, the duties of 51-year-old Liu and his wife remain unchanged: safeguarding the forests against fire hazards.
Since 2008, Liu and Wang have been tasked with early detection and timely reporting of potential fires by monitoring a designated scope of the forests in lookout towers.
Along with rangers in eight other towers perched on the top of peaks around the region, the couple serves as the "eyes" of the 1.15 million-mu (around 77,000 hectares) lush forests, wide open to fire risks.
Even with new technologies, their role is still considered indispensable in the farm's fire-control system and is supplementary to on-ground patrols, monitoring cameras, detecting radar and other measures.
"During the time of heightened potential fire risks, we have to report the condition every 15 minutes to the authority in the daytime and every hour in the nighttime," said Liu.
Due to unbearable loneliness and hardship for rangers working and living in the towers, the work is usually assumed by married couples like Liu and Wang.
"When it comes to lonely hours, we often miss our children and aged parents and cannot help but hold back bursting into tears. However, we know that every other colleague in these towers and different positions is putting their heart and soul into their work and so should we," said Liu.
To the couple's delight, days in the tower without adequate water, food or energy supply due to bad infrastructure have gone. Even though remotely situated, now all lookout towers have good access to the internet.
Thanks to forest ranger couples like Liu and Wang, the Saihanba forest farm has not witnessed a single fire accident for 59 consecutive years.
A GREEN MIRACLE
Fighting alongside with Liu and Wang were generations of workers on the farm. Since the establishment of the forest farm in 1962, they have weathered tough conditions in Saihanba, creating and safeguarding the spectacular different shades of green on the former wasteland.
In the past more than eight years, 6,000-hectares of rocky land, the last barren area of Saihanba, has been covered with green trees, contributing to the forest farm's role as an ecological barrier in north China.
With Saihanba, wind-sand damages in the region have been significantly reduced and around 280 million cubic meters of water have been saved every year.
Witnessing the local industries upgrading from seedling planting and handicraft production to tourism and transportation, more and more people fought their ways to board the express of green development of Saihanba.
A GREENER FUTURE
What has happened in Saihanba epitomizes China's bigger picture of ecological protection achievements.
With decades of hard work, China has been "greener" in all-around ways, embracing cleaner air and water while pursuing high-quality development.
On the front of afforestation, the country has created the world's largest planted forests, raising its forest coverage from 12 percent in the early 1980s to 23.04 percent in 2020, with its forest stock volume hitting 17.56 billion cubic meters.
Meanwhile, China's forest-related industries have expanded. During the 2016-2020 period, the annual output values of the industries of economic forests, timber processing and forest tourism in China have exceeded one trillion yuan (around 154.4 billion U.S. dollars), which contributed to the country's green development and poverty alleviation drive.
"By 2030, there will be 1.2 million mu of forest area in the forest farm, with the forest coverage rate achieving 86 percent," said Chen Zhiqing, director of the Saihanba forest farm.
When Liu and Wang were transferred to the lookout tower that they are working in, they were surrounded by tree saplings that had survived in the mountain's rocky soil. Now, the average height of those trees has surpassed a meter.
"In a few decades, these tender trees will grow into the 'ocean' of the forests," Liu said with the prospect of a larger and greener forest farm. Enditem