Former Swiss diplomat builds a "tropical forest" in SW China's Yunnan

(People's Daily Online) 17:28, October 15, 2021

A 68-year-old former Swiss diplomat with the Chinese name of Laobo has spent 18 years making great achievements in China -- he created a rich tropical forest covering an area of 26 mu (1.73 hectares) within his B&B in the Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture, southwest China's Yunnan province.

Photo shows Laobo introducing the plants in his tropical rainforest. (Photo/chinanews.com)

When Laobo was young, he studied biology and economics successively, took on a variety of jobs, participated in tap water construction projects in Nicaragua, and worked in the field of economics in Switzerland as well as at the Embassy of Switzerland in China.

Laobo transformed his B&B, named “Yourantai”, from a rubber plantation. The former diplomat initiated his forest-building project in 2003, starting by cutting down the rubber trees in the area which had negative effects on the soil. Meanwhile, he also busied himself by collecting the seeds and saplings of tropical species for planting.

"I bought saplings at various nurseries, and my staff members also gave some to me. When hiking around Xishuangbanna, I also brought back the seeds I had picked up and cultivated them into saplings for further species identification. If the tree species were suitable, they would also be planted," Laobo recalled.

His efforts paid off as there are now over 300 species of tropical trees housed in his B&B. "This figure has already exceeded the number of tree species in Switzerland," Laobo said proudly.

Laobo also encountered difficulties while building the tropical forest. For instance, he once planted three cherry trees from another county, two of which failed to survive, and the only one left did not grow well. "The altitude where they originate is different from that here. From then on, I knew that I should mainly choose to plant native tree species," Bo explained.

According to Laobo, running a B&B in the rainforest area requires professional knowledge in many fields, such as that relating to ecology, architecture, economy and tourism. "At the same time, I also proved that there is no conflict between economic development and environmental protection, which requires us to apply more wisdom in economic development," he said. 

(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)


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