A county for the ages

Updated: 2013-09-04 08:28

By Li Yang (China Daily)

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Development plans

A county for the ages

Local resident, Huang Lilin, sells beans, corn, millet, mushrooms and hemp in Longevity village. [Photo by Huo Yan / China Daily]

Wei Ruifen, deputy head of the county, said the provincial government plans to make Bama into a world-class tourist resort in the next five to 10 years.

"We are trying our best to accelerate infrastructure construction to accommodate more high-end visitors", she said. "We have monitoring points across Bama to detect changes in environmental quality and will act to protect the environment in the event of problems."

When a highway is built in a few years, the county government will enforce restrictions on the number of visitors and vehicles entering Bama.

"No vehicles will be allowed to enter the core zone. The natural resources are the village's most valuable assets," said Wei.

Huang Bifeng, deputy director of the Bama tourism bureau said: "Despite government help, we still lack funds, talent and expertise. All we can do now is reduce the environmental damage as much as possible."

The regional government has taken over direct control of planning for the "new" Bama. A construction plan will be implemented soon and the county government is urging villagers not to construct large buildings for the bird people.

"It's hard to stop people from making easy money," said Wei, who added that she's confident that the problems are temporary and "everything will be fine".

Zhou Yong, who runs Bama Longevity Geological Park, said: "Developing Bama is good for my company, but not necessarily good for the place. The more developed it becomes, the less natural it is." He suggested the government should maintain a good balance between immediate profit and future benefits when planning the new village.

"Passing on the environmental and natural resources to Bama's children is the best protection for the village", he said.

Huang Liyuan, a researcher of tourism development from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, has been conducting research in the village for two years.

"I focus on the effects of foreign cultures in Bama. Once, the local people made everything they needed for their daily lives, but now they buy everything. When their lifestyle and mindsets change irrevocably, Bama will die. They will no longer be the owners, but the slaves of the bird people," she warned.

Contact the writer at liyang@chinadaily.com.cn


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