HEFEI, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Until recently the lush green forests of the Dabie Mountains in eastern China provided nothing more than a beautiful view for Shen Keju, but today they help her family and friends escape poverty.
Shen, 80, lives in a mountain village with around 2,000 people in Shucha Township, east China's Anhui Province. Many of the villagers have not been to the county seat 20 km away for decades due to the treacherous landscape.
"We used to have a saying," Shen said. "There is nothing here but mountain views.
The Dabie Mountains located on the border of Anhui, Hubei and Henan provinces have forest coverage of more than 75 percent.
The mountains separate their dwellers from the outside world, both geographically and economically. It is one of China's 14 contiguous poverty-stricken areas involving multiple towns and villages.
As China pushes ahead with its plan to eradicate poverty by 2020, local governments are investing big on infrastructure to bring more business opportunities from the outside and offering money-making tips to the poverty-stricken residents.
Today, concrete roads have been built to reach all the villages in the Dabie Mountains. "With improved infrastructure, we started to lift the villagers out of poverty by cashing in on the green resources here," said Chu Jinhong, Party head of Shucha Township.
Shucha is known for its tea leaves, due to its unique geographical location. And like many locals, Shen ran a small tea farm of around 0.13 hectares. However, the tea had a low yield and did not sell well due to inconvenient transport and a lack of customers.
The local government and tea cooperative offered to help two years ago and transformed the tea farm. Last year, Shen's income from the tea plantation increased 6,000 yuan (around 869 U.S. dollars).
They also gave Shen an additional 3,000 tea seedlings, with which she expanded her tea farm. It is expected that the annual income will increase by an additional 5,000 yuan in three years.
In the past two years, over 700 poverty-stricken households have shaken off poverty in Shucha Township. The incidence of poverty was reduced to less than 1 percent.
In Lu'an city, where Shucha township is located, more than 490,000 poor households are living in the Dabie Mountains. The city government has also set up cooperatives producing fruit and herbs used for traditional Chinese medicine.
In other parts of the Dabie Mountains, forests have proved profitable too. Villagers in Jiuzihe Town in Hubei Province began planting Chinese herbal medicine on a large scale in 2015. A total of 11 households were lifted out of poverty that year.
"Planting herbs increases villager income, and prevents damage to the mountain environment," said Ye Jinming, Party head of the town. "It achieves sustainable development."