Hangzhou joins hands with Quzhou to profit from planting trees

The city of Hangzhou in China’s eastern Zhejiang Province is joining hands with Quzhou, an inland city with immense land resources, to explore a tree-planting project that can benefit the environment, villagers, enterprises, and the government as well.

A few hundred meters away from Quzhou’s high-speed railway station, a village is receiving more tourists than before. What was once a pile of construction waste has become a grove of all kinds of trees, including red maples and oriental cherry trees.

Creating a green space in the neighborhood motivates villagers to plant trees, and profit is another.

The village teamed up with a live streaming company and started selling seedlings of trees online to be planted in the grove. It also sold specialties produced in the village. After several rounds of streaming, over 400 trees were sold.

As a buyer of a local tree, Zhou Mengwei said his purchases mean a lot more than boosting the local environment. After graduating, he bought a tree five years ago as a sign of friendship for him and his college roommates.

“Ever since my roommates and I graduated and went to different cities to work, we’ve rarely had the chance to meet again,” said Zhou.

“This tree symbolizes our long-lasting friendship, that even if we are miles apart, we still cherish what we’ve been through together,” he added.

The decision to buy the tree planting packages is also to increase incomes for local villagers there, said Zhang Guobao, chairman of a Hangzhou-based technology company.

“We gathered together over 10 enterprises and spent 300,000 yuan ($46,446) to purchase trees in the village,” said Zhang.

“I always believe that making a profit for the company is just one thing to do, and shouldering the social responsibility is another, which is equally important,” he added.

The project is funded with investment from Hangzhou entrepreneurs. It’s called the “One Village, 10,000 Trees” green option, with the term option being used as it is in financial markets, in which a contract gives a buyer the right to buy or sell an asset or instrument at a specified price before or on a specified date.

In the case of this program, an individual or enterprise signs a 5-year contract or 10-year contract to buy a tree or group of trees. Then, when the trees have grown in 5 or 10 years, they can either take them away, change hands, or simply be donated to the village.

Part of the profit the village receives will be used for the maintenance during the tree-growing process, and there are also a certain amount of dividends to be distributed to the villagers at the end of the year, said Li Yiwen, a local official in charge of the program.

After operating for three years, Li said the project has helped the village to earn nearly a million yuan, with a total of more than 1,100 individuals, and 19 companies subscribed for green options they offer.

Officials from Zhejiang’s capital Hangzhou also spoke highly of the program.

The form of options helped the farmers to gather start-up capital for planting trees, and market access for them to sell it, said Gao Yang, an official from the Development and Reform Bureau in Yuhang district of Hangzhou.

This innovative model of development should be promoted in more regions, he added.

Officials said that the program will be explored further. Its industrial chain will be expanded further to contribute towards the country’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.