More than 30 percent of the total area of Chongming is covered by forest. The 36,000 hectares of forests on the island district account for nearly one-third of Shanghai’s total.
That high forest coverage plays an important role in air purification, water conservation and climate regulation. Agricultural products grown in forests can also reduce the adverse effects of wind, drought, diseases and pests.
The forest ecosystem comprises many animals, plants and other organisms, which has a high economic value if reasonably developed, giving rise to “forest economics”.
The Shanghai Conghui Agricultural Products Professional Cooperative plants matsutake mushrooms in the forest in Xincun Town. The mushrooms are grown with local rice straw as the substrate and organic fertilizer is applied. Yang Ji, head of the cooperative has calculated that the output of the fungi planted in the forest is almost the same as that planted in the field, but it can greatly reduce costs and save land resources.
Chongming is also exploring planting Chinese herbs such as dendrobium and some shade-loving flowers and plants in forests.
While it is widely believed that high forest coverage can help improve the quality of local agricultural products, few may know that tall fruit trees such as orange and pear trees are also forest resources. Chongming fruit forests have both ecological and economic value.
Gu Chao, head of Chongming Luhua Agricultural Trade Co, said that the sales price of locally produced Cuiguan pears has surged more than 30 percent this year, and the brand-name pear was sold out as early as before the end of July.
Gu believes that the popularity of Chongming pear lies in its superior quality. In addition to the ecological planting and natural maturity that Chongming always insists upon the island’s environment is also suitable for the growth of pear trees.
“Pear trees grow well and have fewer pests and diseases,” Luo Jun, a research fellow with the Forestry and Fruit Institute of the Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences, pointed out.
Luo added that Cuiguan pear was selected as the main variety of pear to be grown in Chongming because it was found through research that the soil pH, groundwater level and climate conditions in Chongming were particularly suitable for its growth.
The forest coverage in Chongming has increased together with the money in Chongming people’s pockets. This is a kind of wisdom.
Source: Information Office of Shanghai Chongming District People’s Government