The vision of mine to restore green hills becomes beautiful.

  In March this year, employees of Shizuishan City who participated in voluntary tree planting in spring were carrying saplings. Photo courtesy of Propaganda Department of Shizuishan Municipal Committee

  In March of this year, the newly planted saplings of the coal gangue residue platform stood upright in the Dagugou treatment area. Our reporter He Yuche photo

  Ma Lian beach area in Shizuishan section of Helan Mountain after treatment (photo taken in August 2022). Photo courtesy of Propaganda Department of Shizuishan Municipal Committee

  Editor’s Note: The integrated protection and restoration project of landscape forest, field, lake, grass and sand ("landscape project") is a landmark project to practice the concept of life community of landscape forest, field, lake and grass. Since the "Thirteenth Five-Year Plan", 44 "landscape projects" have been deployed and implemented in the important ecological barrier areas of "three districts and four belts". In December, 2022, "China Landscape Project" was selected as one of the first ten flagship projects of world ecological restoration by the United Nations. From now on, this edition will publish a series of reports on "Beautiful China Landscape Project" to show the exploration and achievements of integrated protection and restoration in various places.

  "Look, there is a rock sheep on the right!" When the vehicle drove into Helan Mountain, Ge Yihong suddenly shouted. Looking up, three gray rock sheep are drinking leisurely by the stream, and in the distance, Helan Mountain is covered with a layer of green.

  This is Shitanjing Street, Dawukou District, Shizuishan City, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, located in the hinterland of Helan Mountain. Ge Yihong, the 60-year-old stationmaster of street sanitation station, lives here all the year round.

  Helan Mountain is an important natural geographical dividing line and an important ecological barrier in northwest China, which is rich in coal and other resources. Since 1950s, large-scale disorderly mining has seriously damaged the mountain landform. In 2018, the pilot project of ecological protection and restoration of lake grass in the landscape forest field at the eastern foot of Helan Mountain in Ningxia was officially launched; In 2021, the comprehensive improvement of the ecological environment of Helan Mountain was jointly recommended by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the World Conservation Union as one of the 10 typical cases of ecological protection and restoration with China characteristics. Today, Ningxia has completed the comprehensive renovation of 214 points inside and outside Helanshan National Nature Reserve, with an area of over 405,000 mu.

  Mine management, shut down and quit coal and gravel enterprises.

  "In the past two years, the effectiveness of governance has gradually emerged. There have been new changes in the former Shikanjing mining area, and many animals that have lived in the mountains for a long time have gone down the mountain." Ge Yigong said, looking out from time to time. "You see, this ‘ Quack chicken ’ How beautiful! " Along the direction of the finger, I saw the stone pheasants with bright fur and round posture strolling in the grass in droves, and in the distance, the golden eagle with wide wingspan was hovering in the sky … …

  Ge Yihong was born, grew up and worked in the mining area. Different from the days when the mountains were quiet and natural and animals swarmed, the Helan Mountain used to be full of people and the sound of mining rumbled.

  Since 1950s, Helan Mountain has entered the stage of large-scale industrial mining. Mining enterprises blossom everywhere, and there are countless informal small coal mines. "At that time, it was also called Shikanjing District. At the most brilliant time, it was inhabited by more than 100,000 people. There were hospitals, shopping malls, schools and restaurants, including Helan Mountain ‘ Baili mining area ’ Known as. " Ge Yihong said.

  However, the large-scale exploitation of mineral resources has seriously damaged the mountain landscape, and some wild animals are on the verge of extinction due to the sharp compression of their habitats. There are about 50 coal enterprises scattered in the Dagugou area of the carboniferous well, including 5 large pits formed by open-pit mining and more than 10 continuous slag hills. Dust all over the sky and sewage cross-flow, which greatly destroyed the natural ecosystem of Helan Mountain.

  "In the past, there were coal washing plants everywhere. Black wastewater flowed in the ditch and the land was dyed black. Private mines cut off the whole mountain, and dug a large pit for quarrying, forming a gully with a depth of 100 meters. " Ge Yihong still remembers the scene of that year. "Red deer and rock sheep have never been seen. Wearing a shirt, it will be dyed black for a while, and residents are afraid to dry clothes outside. "

  With the progress of the central environmental protection inspector, in 2017, Ningxia began to vigorously rectify the ecological environment of Helan Mountain. Rujigou, Shitanjing and other mining areas closed all open-pit coal mines, 83 mining rights were all withdrawn, and 561 "scattered pollution" enterprises in the centralized coal processing zone at the foot of the mountain were also shut down and banned.

  After clearing the mine, cutting the slope and lowering the platform, a vigorous mine management began. "Following the Helan Mountain Clean-up and Renovation Command, everyone rushed to the slag platform piled up by abandoned coal gangue and transported it day and night." As the stationmaster of Shitanjing Street Sanitation Station, Ge Yihong participated in the whole process.

  Coal gangue was piled up into a waste platform with a height of nearly 100 meters by a mine car, and then cut into a "terraced field" in order to reduce the slope and prevent soil erosion. Subsequently, the mountain-high unclaimed slag pile was covered with loess nearly 50 cm thick, which gave the black slag mountain with a layer of "skin" that could retain green vitality. At the same time, "follow the mountain, follow the mountain, follow the mountain", restore the topography according to the shape, and reduce the safety hazards such as landslides and mudslides.

  During the treatment period, the resident population of Shitanjing decreased sharply, and Ge Yihong moved from the hinterland of Helan Mountain to Dawukou District at the foot of the mountain with the coal miners. Nowadays, standing at the top of the Dagugou governance area, new "mountains" have sprung up. "This is smoothing what was left behind ‘ Scar ’ Only by curing the mine can there be room for further greening. " Ge Yihong said.

  Planting trees, building greening projects and implementing ecological restoration.

  On both sides of the 302 provincial highway crossing Helan Mountain, drip irrigation pipes tightly wrap the towering slag platform like fishing nets. "This is to ensure the survival rate of seedlings. From spring to winter, water should be poured at least 10 times." Ge Yihong said. It was spring, and I saw that many bare land had been covered by all kinds of newly planted saplings.

  After the retreat and restoration of Helan Mountain mine, how to effectively plant trees and increase green has become the number one problem in Helan Mountain management.

  To plant trees, we should start with selecting suitable tree species. Since 2018, Shizuishan Ecological Protection Forest Farm has conducted a series of experiments in Helan Mountain through cooperation with Ningxia University and other scientific research institutes, and finally determined Caragana korshinskii, Salix psammophila, Elm, Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica and Robinia pseudoacacia as the main tree species. "Helan Mountain is a stone mountain with thin soil layer and difficult vegetation growth. Moreover, the annual rainfall here is only two or three hundred millimeters, but the evaporation is more than 10 times. Native plants that are cold-resistant, drought-resistant and salt-tolerant are the best choice. " Zhang Tingxie, director of Shizuishan Ecological Protection Forest Farm, said: "‘ Seabuckthorn, Caragana korshinskii and Prunus armeniaca on the top of the mountain wear hats, and two apricots are wrapped around the waist on the hillside ’ This is what we have summed up. "

  Although he has moved out of the mining area, he heard that there is a green restoration project. Ge Yihong returned to Shihanjing, joined the army of tree planting, and got busy in the Dagugou area with the heaviest restoration task.

  Waving steel drill and shovel, struggling to dig hard sand and gravel ground, digging out 80 cm square tree pits, and then righting, ridging, tamping and watering the seedlings. "Dig up the thin soil layer, and here is the coal gangue that can’t store water. If you want trees to survive, you have to cover them with moisture-retaining soil, nutrient soil and sealing soil, step on them layer by layer, and finally mention them slightly to make the roots of seedlings grow in the same direction. " This is known as the "three steps and one mention" trick, and Ge Yihong and the tree planters are well known. "Now, the survival rate of trees can reach 85%." Ge Yihong said.

  Planting trees in spring and autumn, watering in summer, controlling pests and diseases, and conducting fire inspections in winter, Ge Yihong "soaks" in Helan Mountain all year round. Nowadays, driving around the mountain along the ecological restoration area of Helan Mountain, you can see "green-planting people" digging holes to change soil, placing saplings and lifting water to irrigate … … "The apricot at the foot of the mountain was planted by us a few years ago. When the apricot blossoms are in full bloom, they are layered. This year, we intend to put this cinder mountain in green. " Zhang Tingxie said.

  Systematic improvement of governance results, integrated development of ecological culture and tourism.

  "Now there are less than 100 people left in Shitanjing Street. After the restoration of Helan Mountain is completed, my life will be idle." Ge Yihong, who returned to the Shitanjing, did not go down the mountain and stayed in the old mining area. However, it was not long before the days of "long years in the mountains", the Shitanjing became lively again.

  Since autumn and winter of 2021, Shizuishan City has mobilized 105 units, including party and government organs, enterprises and institutions, and units stationed in stone areas, to carry out greening activities in eight mine ecological environment management areas in Dalanggou District, Shitanjing Street, Helan Mountain along the 302 provincial highway. At present, it is the planting period, and many staff members are busy setting out, waving picks and shovels, and leveling the ground.

  "Through ‘ Green Planting in Pieces in Helan Mountain ’ Activities can plant 12,000 mu of trees a year. " Jia Zengjun, director of the Natural Resources Bureau of Shizuishan City, said: "More importantly, the task of slicing and planting has stimulated everyone’s enthusiasm and made everyone feel that the results of Helan Mountain governance are hard-won. Now the afforestation task is about to be completed. From the closure and rectification of the mining area to the ecological restoration of internal and external integration, and then to the improvement of the governance results system, Helan Mountain is being dressed in green. "

  Ecological improvement has made Helan Mountain, which once sold coal, have the possibility of diversified development.

  At 7: 35 every morning, the 7524 train leaves Yinchuan for Rujigou. This small train is called "Shitanjing Tourist", which connects in series with the former coal mining areas such as Dagugou, Baijigou and Rujigou. A 3-hour and 52-minute drive takes passengers deep into the hinterland of Helan Mountain to visit the passionate industrial years.

  "Eco-tourism+industrial film and television shooting base" is a new way explored in Shitanjing mining area. Since 2017, some old houses in Shitanjing have been repaired and old streets and alleys have been protected. After the establishment of the Shitanjing Industrial Tourism Town Exhibition Hall, Ge Yihong was hired as a commentator to receive visitors: "I didn’t expect the industrial relics left in the old mining area to become a unique advantage in developing tourism. In the past few days, I have received thousands of tourists, and many movies have come here to take pictures!"

  After several years of management, the ecological function of Helan Mountain has been steadily improved, and the goals of ecological corridor restoration and biodiversity improvement are gradually being implemented. This towering mountain range is witnessing the ecological vision of "green water and green mountains" becoming a beautiful life within reach.