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Preserving ancient villages as modern Chongqing swallows more land

(Global Times)

14:27, October 22, 2012

Experimental solutions aimed at helping preserve ancient rural communities as they are enveloped by ever-expanding modern metropolises are being tested with the help of a UNESCO program in Ba'nan district of Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, local authorities said Sunday.

A package of 11 pilot projects, which include building growth clusters for food processing, sightseeing and agricultural gardens, are designed to improve rural livelihoods while minimizing the effect of urban sprawl, according to a white paper released Sunday in Shanghai.

"We hope the indigenous rural communities in the countryside can be preserved. With the integration of rural and urban economies, we need to find ways to keep the momentum of urban growth while at the same time retaining the diverse rural landscape that the district currently enjoys," said Li Jianchun, Party secretary of Ba'nan district.

The projects aim to provide diverse employment opportunities in Ba'nan, which will help the growth of modern rural communities so that farmers can enjoy the benefits of rural living, Li said.

The rich cultural and historic legacy of 900,000 indigenous villages has disappeared over the past decade, reported the China News Service Sunday.

"Given the rapid disappearance of these traditional rural communities, it is urgent to take action to protect the existing ones," Feng Jicai, vice chairman of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, said in the report.

"Experiments in Chongqing are important to the rest of China, where the urban-rural structure has existed for centuries," said Li.

The projects can also help other developing regions around the world, and experiences learned in China can be replicated and promoted in other places with similar situations, Hans d'Orville, assistant director-general for Strategic Planning at UNESCO, said Sunday.
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