- China – Biogas – Millions of rural households in China have switched to homemade biogas for cooking, with far-reaching environmental and social benefits.
- Japan – How Japan Saved its Forests: The Birth of Silviculture and Community Forest Management – Villagers devise silviculture and community forest management to save the nation’s forests.
Capsule (shorter pieces which appear below)
- China – Leadership Training and Cooperation for Sustainable Community Development – The Harmony Foundation of Canada educates Chinese mayors and community residents for sustainable development.
- China – Sichuan Province – Reforestation – Reforestation with local access restores a degraded watershed.
- China – Gansu – Rainwater Harvesting – Rainwater harvesting in a dry region has multiple benefits for a drought-prone region.
- China – Southern Taklimakan Desert – Tamarix Trees – Drought-resistant trees stop sand dunes encroaching on agricultural land.
- China – Fuzhou – Ocean Arks Wastewater Restorers – An innovative wastewater treatment system restores the quality of polluted urban waterways.
China – Leadership Training and Cooperation for Sustainable Community Development
- Author: Regina Gregory
- Posted: June 2009
Since 1985 the Harmony Foundation of Canada has provided educators and community leaders with innovative programs and materials for sustainable community development. In 2006 it launched the Program for Leadership Training and Cooperation for Sustainable Community Development in China. The program’s mission is to train mayors, other local leaders and community residents to work together to protect public health and the environment while providing opportunity for rapidly growing urban populations. In cooperation with the Environmental Management College of China and other institutions, the program has achieved the following accomplishments:
- Trained 110 Chinese mayors with National Training Center for Mayors of China and developed framework curriculum for increased training and training of other senior local officials
- Trained more than 400 community residents resulting in local projects including waste reduction, youth education, cooking oil recycling, and a framework for increased training
- Published and distributed a Chinese language version of Harmony’s Community Action Workshop Manual
- Published and distributed a Chinese language version of Harmony’s Green Cities: a Guide for Sustainable Community Development
- Trained 60 Environmental Protection Bureau managers and developed a framework curriculum for expansion of training
- Developed a “train the trainers” program to increase the pool of qualified facilitators
- Conducted conferences/workshops on sustainable community development for leading Chinese NGO’s and academics
- Consulted with key government agencies, colleges and universities and recognized leaders in sustainable community development in China and formed an advisory council
- Conducted a leadership training demonstration at the World Urban Forum 4 in Nanjing
- Made a presentation to the Canada-China Business Council
- Collaborated with the City of Kunming on water stewardship
- Collaborated with Xiaoguan sub-district of Beijing on energy and water conservation
Major program outcomes anticipated for 2009-2011 include:
- Publication of Chinese case studies and success stories in sustainable community development
- Establishment of curriculum, training and trainers for 1) mayors and other senior local officials, 2) environmental protection bureau managers, 3) community group leaders and local residents
- Establishment of train the trainers program and curriculum for trainers
- Establishment of Center for Leadership Training and Cooperation for Sustainable Community Development in China, with Board and Advisory Council comprised of Chinese and international leaders
- Presentations of program and demonstrations of training including World Exposition in Shanghai, 2010
- Formalization of alliances for Center with business, local government, colleges and universities and civil society organizations established during project into ongoing collaboration in China and internationally
- Establishment of community demonstration projects in water stewardship, energy conservation, sustainable transportation, local food security, environmental health and safety, clean air, waste reduction, green procurement, etc. and incorporation into Center’s mandate and operations
With 20% of the world’s population driving history’s fastest growing economy, China’s development decisions greatly influence economic stability, human and environmental health and security around the world. It is essential to provide economic opportunity for rapidly growing urban populations while empowering citizens and protecting the environment and public health. Building civil society capacity, public participation, open local governance and multi-sector cooperation is essential to achieving sustainable communities, as is the application of clean technology, products and services. The Center for Leadership Training and Cooperation for Sustainable Community Development in China will continue building invaluable relationships in science, education, urban management, local governance and trade.
This is just a small part of Harmony Foundation’s Building Sustainable Societies program. For more information—including a list of publications and educational resources for action in communities, homes, workplaces, and schools—visit http://www.harmonyfdn.ca.
China – Sichuan Province – Reforestation
- Author: Amanda Suutari
- Posted: May 2005
The Qiang people live in an area important for its mountain forests, a major source of water for the Yangtze – -what happens here has downstream implications. Deforestation and population growth over four decades has caused forests to shrink by up to 40 percent, and biodiversity has also been lost. As the situation worsened, the government began to recognize the importance of the region and that something had to be done.
In the 1980s, the government funded a reforestation program, and scientists designed the model, but they first investigated the socioeconomic situation. The project relied on indigenous knowledge of the Qiang people – -key in conservation of biodiversity – -and their practices of forest management and home-gardening. Collection of plants for herbal medicines is a major source of income for the Qiang people, and the cultivation of plants was merged with reforestation. This guaranteed participation of farmers, which has in turn increased economic returns on reforestation investment.
Trees are planted in terraces; horizontal bands of original vegetation are alternated with bands of tree seedlings. Indigenous species are preserved in the bands of original vegetation. The practice of alternating bands of new trees with bands of original vegetation creates ideal conditions for medicinal plant cultivation, increases diversity of species in forest stands, and protects against soil erosion from water runoff.
Commonly, reforestation in China involves banning locals from entering forests. If this had been the case, the project would not have been sustainable, because Qiang people traditionally cultivate medicinal plants in common woodlands and around their homes. It focused not only on replanting, but on opening up woodlands to locals – -they may cultivate medicinal plants under the tree canopy as always. Because plants need shade, locals have always understood the need to plant trees first. The planting is supported by project funds, but they finance the cultivation of medicinal plants themselves.
This has also given higher status to medicinal knowledge, which may help ensure its being passed on to future generations.
For more information visit UNESCO.
China – Gansu – Rainwater Harvesting
- Author: Amanda Suutari
- Posted: May 2005
The Gansu province of China is one of the driest and poorest areas in the mountainous area of northwest China. River runoff is too saline for drinking or irrigation, and groundwater is scant and of bad quality. Agriculture is largely rain-fed. After conducting a study and pilot project in the early 1990s, the province’s water research institute suggested introducing rainwater harvesting on a broader scale. In the wake of a drought in 1995, the provincial government launched the program quickly, with a successful media campaign calling for donors and technical support. The province provided a $50 subsidy to each rural household to build a rainwater collection “field” on roofs or paved courtyards, and two underground tanks.
The results have been called “phenomenal” – -farmers are diversifying into cash crops, have built 23,500 greenhouses, planted 440 hectares of fruit trees and 22,500 hectares of cash crops. In addition:
- Annual household incomes went up from $100 in 1995 to $182 in 2002.
- The average number of days for water fetching has been reduced by 70, which has freed up mainly women and children.
- Soil erosion is better controlled.
- There is more biodiversity, not only of agriculture but greenery and trees.
- The success of the project has been linked to the logical step-by-step process of research, experimentation, demonstration, training and replication by the water research institute (GRIWAC), and the active motivation and participation of farmers at the planning, construction, labor, and donation of materials, which shouldered two-thirds of the costs.
- Gansu has set an example of the potential of rainwater harvesting in China and it has attracted interest from other parts of the country. It has also been an innovation on the traditional concept of water resources development in China (an important one in the context of the large-scale, high-cost projects like the Three Gorges Dam, from which scattered rural communities cannot benefit).
Services restored/benefits: poverty alleviation, water and food security, erosion control
China – Southern Taklimakan Desert – Tamarix Trees
- Author: Amanda Suutari
- Posted: May 2005
Villages in the Taklimakan are threatened by mobile dunes caused by overgrazing, salinized soil from irrigated farming (the area is flat and had poor drainage) and overexploitation of fuelwood. Natives of the targeted region – -four counties in Hotan Prefecture – -were chiefly farmers and herders.
Scientists at a nearby institute, noticing the worsening conditions and encroachment of sand dunes, speculated that propagation of the tamarix, a small tree or bush known as the “salt cedar” could reverse the deterioration of salinized areas by acting as a “biopump,” keeping the groundwater well below the surface (as opposed to on or near the surface, where water would evaporate quickly and, combined with poor drainage, is the reason for salinization of soil).
Trees were planted in rows so that crops could be grown between them. Volunteer guards (who would be given a stipend from the profits gained from increased incomes) protected the nurseries. A rotational system was introduced for harvesting fuel. Results:
- Increases in wood and fodder for livestock from the tamarix bush.
- Increase in agricultural productivity, especially grain and cotton, and crops are now grown on rehabilitated land (60,000 hectares).
- Increased household incomes from agricultural improvement and from industries based on tamarix such as baskets, trolleys and earth carriers.
- Sand dunes are better controlled.
- The technology is being replicated elsewhere in China.
Services/benefits: Increased household income, food/fodder, fuel, erosion control
For more information visit the HORIZON Solutions Site.
China – Fuzhou – Ocean Arks Wastewater Restorers
- Author: Amanda Suutari
- Posted: May 2005
This pilot project was launched in Fuzhou, a crowded city of 2.5 million people in southwest China, on the Baima Canal, which pre-project was (and still is, except this section) 100 miles of what is basically open sewer which runs through the city and drains into the Ming River. Along this small section there are 40 influent points where wastewater from 12,000 people is released into the canal. Before the installation of the Restorer, the water in the canal was grey, laden with sewage and garbage, and emitted a powerful stench.
In the Autumn of 2003, Ocean Arks International installed a wastewater treatment system on a 600-meter stretch of this canal which flows along high-rise apartment buildings, a temple, shops, restaurants, and a school. The Restorer is basically a 600-meter-long floating pontoon, which houses two long racks with a walkway between for workers to access a central control barge, to trim the garden, and to pick up litter. The Restorer’s technologies, among other things, include oxygen emitted from blowers along the pontoon, botanical gardens which line the sides of the pontoons with root systems which house two strains of bacteria, one of which was introduced to convert ammonia into a more benign form, and the other, along with some introduced carp, to consume the sewage solids. Below the surface of the water a recycle pipe moves bacteria through the system to keep it biologically active.
After a year in operation, the water is clear, does not smell, and contains fish. The Restorer is meeting technical standards set by Fuzhou officials: ammonia levels are down, and biochemical oxygen demand is down to a tenth of original numbers. Residents report seeing butterflies and birds there for the first time in their lives.
The system is calculated to be one eighth of the price of a conventional sewage treatment system, which makes it ideal for places like rapidly urbanizing China where services like waste and sewage treatment can’t keep up with demand. While Ocean Arks has installed similar projects in over 80 locations, one staff member commented that he didn’t think they’d done a facility “which had such a drastic improvement on a day-to-day basis in people’s lives.” The project has attracted the attention of officials from other cities who have come to Fuzhou to learn more about it.
For more information visit Ocean Arks.