Phelex and UPM aim to create a poplar tree farm in Qiaocun, Yichuan County in Henan Province. Proceeds of sales of poplar tree products (bark, paper, wood) will be used to provide financial assistance to students, as well as support school refurbishment efforts. Students at Qiaocun Elementary School need to pay RMB120 ($16.70 USD) textbook fees, which often strain family finances.
Qiao Village Elementary School is located in Yichuan County, Luoyang City in Henan Province, 350 kilometers away from provincial capital Zhengzhou and 30 kilometers away from the major city of Luoyang. The student body consists of local children, as well as children from surrounding villages, totaling approximately 130 students.
In recent years, Qiao Village has been recognized as a role model for agricultural development and progress. Nevertheless, despite the community’s substantial commitment to economic and development, in 2007, the average per-capita income of village resident was: RMB 2,760 ($383.30 USD), barely more than $1 USD a day.
- In December 2007, UPM and Phelex Foundation formally agreed to fund the Poplar tree planting project. A RMB grant of 155,500 was contributed to the project.
- On January 18, 2008, after intensive dialogue and consultation with community leaders, community council chairman Mr. Li Gangding formally introduced this project at the village meeting. Villagers were shown a budget for the project and future profit expectations. Parents were encouraged to participate, and transparency of procedures was heavily emphasized. Overall, the attendees were excited about the project.
- Late January, 600 villagers dug 2,100 ground holes and fertilized the land to prepare for polar tree planting in mid February. Beijing Yifan Co. provided technical guidance to the process.
- In April 2008, a group of 4 UPM representatives led by Chief representative Soile Korhonen visited the tree planting land and Qiaocun village. They commission audited the community council meeting, in which issues related to the project were discussed.
Anticipated Need and Uses of Funding:
Although the Phelex Foundation has made substantial progress in this project, much additional work remains. Although trees grow up to 10 feet per year and can provide 5+ years of firewood, young poplar trees require maintenance and continual care, such as fertilizing the ground and providing sufficient water.
Moreover, funding is needed to purchase additional poplar trees to replenish trees that have been cut down for wood and trees that have become diseased.
In addition, the village can benefit from tools to support the harvesting of poplar products. Community members sell poplar skin and bark to neighboring towns and poplar wood to nearby factors. Additional tools would expedite this process.
( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrUfrUsW5WE )