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Balancing growth with protection as the key – Opinion

Ships dock at a tourist port on the Yangtze River in Zigui, Hubei province, in April 2020. (Photo/Xinhua)

Illegal sand mining has eroded more than 2,000 mu (1.33 square kilometers) of islets and beaches in Hunan province’s Dongting Lake, covering an area of ​​about 2,500 square kilometers, reporters from the Fifth Central Environmental Protection Inspection Team have discovered.

As early as 2017, the then Central Environmental Inspection Team pointed out that the large-scale planting of European black poplar in the lake posed a serious threat to the lake’s ecology. Provincial authorities drew up a plan to completely remove the European black poplar by the end of 2020. However, soon after, the poplar was replanted there in violation of regulations.

In September 2023, the Hunan Provincial Water Resources Department issued a document restricting sand mining in the Mengjiangyu mining area before approving the adjustment plan for the relevant nature reserves, but the following month, the Lixian Province Water Resources Department illegally approved sand mining there. .

To put an end to this, it is necessary not only to strengthen accountability, but also to promote the optimization of related governance and framework assessment mechanisms.

While those responsible for illegal activities are being held accountable, it is also necessary to reflect on whether the local economic and social development model has truly kept pace with the demands of environmental management. The Dongting Lake Area still relies on a traditional model for lake-related resource development. This means that related compensation mechanisms for ecological protection may need further improvement, providing strong support for a better balance between economic development and environmental protection.