New homes have been built for the residents of Changkou village, Sanming, Fujian province. [Photo/Xinhua] As it flows through Fujian province's village of Changkou, in Sanming, the Jinxi River shimmers under the blue sky. On one side stands a mountain covered with thick pine forests. Well-spaced, attractive, new residential buildings of two or three stories complement the area's natural beauty. Zhang Linshun, 53, has spent his entire life in the village. He and his peers adhere to the proverb, "If you live near the mountain, ask it for your livelihood." But Zhang, the village Party secretary, stressed that natural resources have never been exploited wastefully there. He said the concepts that "Lucid waters and lush mountains are priceless assets" and "Resources should be used sustainably for the benefit of future generations" have become part of the rules that all residents constantly bear in mind. For more than 20 years, the residents have insisted on green development, based on the resources provided by the mountain, water and farmland. To that end, they have used the area's environmental advantages wisely in their quest for growth. Ecotourism and environmentally aware agriculture have seen life in the village improve greatly. Last year, per capita income reached 23,600 yuan ($3,615), more than 10 times the figure at the turn of the century. "For us, the dramatic changes in the village are the result of good policy support from the government and people's hard work," Zhang said. "More important, we have followed the right development path, with an emphasis on ecological conservation." Changkou is a good example of a settlement that combines rural revitalization with the nation's environmental conservation efforts, all based on President Xi Jinping's governance philosophy of building an ecological civilization in which sustainable development is key. In essence, it aims to create a fruitful balance between economic development and environmental protection, and to forge harmony between humans and nature. More than 20 years ago, things were very different in Changkou. The villagers struggled to escape poverty, there were no paved paths or streetlights and many of the houses were dilapidated, Zhang said. "In 1997, our combined income was just 30,000 yuan," he said, adding that last year the figure reached 1.22 million yuan, 40 times higher. For poverty-stricken farmers, the mountain's natural pine forests were seen as a good resource for raising incomes. In the 1990s, some villagers proposed selling the wood from the local forests. A local chopstick manufacturer approached the village and offered to pay 200,000 yuan for more than 130 hectares of natural forest, according to Zhang. "The sum was really attractive to us at the time because the money would have helped us solve a lot of problems," he said. "However, if the trees were felled, the rocky mountain would be left barren and it would have been very difficult to plant trees and grow a planned forest."