Yuan Yuan: guardian angel of Jingning's forests
Having been engaged in forest fire prevention and quarantine work for 28 years, 52-year-old Yuan Yuan is the director of the forest plant quarantine station in Jingning She autonomous county – administered by Lishui city in East China's Zhejiang province.
In February 2009, a blight was found in Jingning for the first time. Since then, Yuan has become involved in fighting the pine wood nematode – a microscopic, worm-like creature that is a serious threat to forests internationally – most of her working days.
"It takes only about 40 days for a pine tree to get sick and die. In the meantime, pine wood nematodes also spread to surrounding trees," she said. Yuan said even the remains of a diseased tree can cause the spread of the blight.
Yuan Yuan checks the trees in a forest in Jingning. [Photo/zjol.com.cn]
Jingning has abundant mountain and forest resources. Yuan's grandfather and father used to work in the forest all year round and she literally grew up with the trees.
With her rich experience, Yuan and her colleagues at the quarantine station have worked out their own way to deal with the blight, protecting nearly 533 square kilometers of forest in the county.
She is now regarded as the forest 'doctor' and as such is trusted by the local villagers. Now, whenever they find pine trees that are turning yellow or red, they report to Yuan immediately.
Yuan has a simple but profound philosophy about her environment. "The mountains are like my home, and the trees are like my friends. I must take good care of them," she said.