Fujian province will give ecological projects a more prominent position during its economic development, said the province's top political leader.
You Quan, Fujian Party chief and a deputy to the National People's Congress, said that local authorities should raise the construction of ecological civilization to a new level.
The environment has been given an unprecedentedly important role in decision-making since the country's former president Hu Jintao emphasized the importance of ecological progress and advocated the building of a "beautiful China" in the country's overall development plan during his keynote speech at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in November.
The issue of environmental protection was again highlighted in Premier Wen Jiabao's Government Work Report delivered to NPC deputies on March 5.
"It requires local governments to take the establishment of ecological civilization very seriously, eyeing long-term sustainable development, rather than short-term economic growth," You said.
More than 1.67 million hectares of trees have been planted over the past decade, involving a total investment of more than 20 billion yuan ($3.17 billion), according to the latest report issued by the Fujian provincial government.
Fujian has been focusing on green development since 2000, when President Xi Jinping, who then worked in Fujian, proposed an "ecological province" strategy, which saw it become one of the first of a number of pilot provinces carrying out ecological construction.
After more than a decade of work, previously barren mountains have been covered in greenery and Fujian has become one of the top-ranked provinces in terms of the quality of its water, air and environment.
Despite the fact that Fujian has blue skies, a pure sea and forest coverage that reached 63 percent in 2012, the province faces some serious environmental issues, including water and soil erosion, You said.
According to You, a series of environmental campaigns will be launched to tackle air, water and soil pollution.
The efforts will include cutting carbon emissions, planting more trees — with a targeted forest coverage of 65.5 percent by 2015 — and raising public awareness about environmental protection.
The province will continue its basic farmland protection system, improve management of water resources and make more effort to ensure safe drinking water in rural areas.
Social organizations and individuals will be encouraged to join in the construction of ecological projects, You added.
"The province will also issue some policies to evaluate government officials' work performance based on their work on environmental protection," he said.