The project – which was launched about five years ago by the German biologist Josef Margraf, now deceased, and his wife Minguo – pioneers a “rainforest farming” technique that creates a rich habitat for multiple species, from which a modest income for people can be cultivated from orchids, tea, honey and other products.
Hopes were high that the project could offer an economically viable alternative to the monocultures that are gobbling up forests across vast swaths of south China and south-east Asia ….
The flames appear to have spread from the direction of a neighbouring cow farm. Local officials say the spark was deliberately lit to create a controlled firebreak. Others told the visiting group that the fire may have been part of an effort to clear land for the expansion of a cattle farm.
“This is no accident. You just don’t do a controlled fire on a windy day like today,” said Pavlos Georgiadis, a former student of Margraf, who died of a heart attack last year. “This is the peak of the dry season. We haven’t had rain for two months.”