Gao Honghong (China)

Gao was born in a remote mountain village in Gangsu province and had an impoverished childhood. In 1987, after graduation from high school, she went to Xian to work in a wholesale market for clothing, and learned the business. After two years she went back home to start a small clothing shop and became quite successful in a few years. In spite of that, she decided to sell the business and went into forestry. The decision was driven by a State policy that encouraged individuals to start forestry in barren mountains.

She had met a lot of skepticism and objections from her family, but had persisted supported by her husband. She entered into a contract with the village for the mountains, hired a group of villagers and then went. There were no roads, no water source, so they dug roads and built water towers. In the early days she had encountered numerous difficulties, worst of all not being able to pay the workers from the village before one Lunar New Year. Fortunately she still had their trust and they stayed with her.

A few years later she contracted more land, partly for pine trees and partly as terraced fields for economy crops. In addition to ecological value, her forestry also had significant economic value. It provided employment for over 70 people, and also for seasonal workers. Other peasants were attracted by her success and also started forestry projects. Meanwhile she had used part of the small profit from her project to build a 3-km road to help transportation for the village.

After ten years, the barren hills have turned completely green with pine, chestnut trees and pear trees, loaded with fruits…

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