Rehabilitation and Management of degraded forests in Beijing’s Miyun Reservoir watershed


Project title: Rehabilitation and Management of Degraded Forests in Miyun Reservoir Watershed, Beijing [2015P2-MYN]
Supervisory agency: Beijing Municipal Bureau of Forestry and Parks (BMBFP)
Executing agency: Beijing Forestry Society (BFS)  
Implementing agency: Beijing Forestry University (BFU), Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF), Beijing Forestry and Parks Department of International Cooperation (BFPIC)

Budget in USD (total / APFNet grant): 696,300 /491,100
Duration: 07/2015-06/2018
Project category: Research and Policy Devolopment Projects
Target economy: China
Site location: Miyun Watershed, Beijing and Hebei Province, China


- To improve the water conservation capacity of the forest on project sites by applying close-to-nature forest management approaches.
- To reduce water pollution caused by fertilizer application in orchards.
- To improve the livelihoods of the local community by promoting the development of forest recreation activities (Ecotourism).
- To enhance the capacity of stakeholders to manage forests in environment-friendly ways.
- To produce best practice models for long-term forest management in the watershed.

- Output 1: Monoculture plantations of Pinus tabuliformis and Platycladus orientalis (Linn.) Franco (280 ha) in three project sites is - managed in a close-to-nature approach.
- Output 2: Livelihoods of the local community improved by the development of ecotourism.
- Output 3: The relevant stakeholders' capacity to manage forest and ecotourism services improved.
- Output 4: Experiences and lessons learned summarized and disseminated.

Activity 1.1: Develop 5-year forest management plans for project sites.
Activity 1.2: Transform the monoculture plantation of Pinus tabuliformis and Platycladus orientalis into mixed forests with broad-leaved species.
Activity 2.1 & 2.2: Develop an eco-tourism plan and tourism infrastructure.
Activity 2.3 & 2,4: Marketing in Beijing and development of the eco-tourism management plan
Activity 3.1 & 3.3: Develop training manuals, train local forest practitioners in the implementation of a long-term forest management plan and local farmers’ involvement in ecotourism
Activity 3.4: Organize domestic and international study tours.
Activity 4.1 & 4.2: Establish a knowledge hub and develop integrated forest management in Miyun Reservoir Watershed
Activity 4.3 & 4.4: Organize workshops and prepare and submit policy recommendations to local and Beijing municipal government agencies.


Project background

China’s capital, Beijing, is a rapidly expanding mega-city with millions of people located in the dry northeast of the country. The city and its surroundings have unique environmental challenges and opportunities. As one of the most water-scarce cities in the world (per capita availability of water is only 1/30 of the world’s average), finding reliable and clean water sources is a challenge. The Miyun Reservoir and its watershed are very important for the city of Beijing and the residents living in the watershed. Accounting for nearly 70% of the total area of the reservoir's watershed, forests play an essential and irreplaceable role in conserving water, protecting the reservoir, and safeguarding the quality of water running into the reservoir. However, about 75% of the forests in the Miyun Reservoir Watershed are categorized as “sub-healthy,” meaning the forest ecosystems are unstable and have low water-conserving capacity. In addition, the traditional management practice of orchards, especially the application of fertilizer, produces pollution on surface water before running into the reservoir, posing a threat to the quality of drinking water of Beijing residents. Meanwhile, the contradiction between the livelihood improvement of forest-dependent communities and the protection of forest resources is challenging as extremely stringent water conservation regulations lay restrictions on industrial development and land use in upper watershed areas that have limited residents’ access to forest resources, exacerbating their poverty.

Therefore, APFNet supported the project “Rehabilitation and management of degraded forests in Miyun Watershed, Beijing,” to address the issue of forest management in the Miyun Reservoir Watershed to safeguard the water quality of the watershed by applying integrated forest management approaches. Fig.1 shows the location of the project sites.

Fig.1 Location of the Project Sites

Project featured topics   
Close-to-nature forest management (CFM)

Close-to-nature forest management originated in Germany and is a forest management system that builds on the forest ecosystem’s stability, biodiversity, multi-functions, and buffering capacity. The ultimate objectives include permanent forest cover, multi-functional (especially water filtering and increased water yield), and high-quality forests.
Common problems in the project sites included monoculture plantations of Chinese Pine (Pinus tabuliformis) and Chinese Arborvitae (Platycladus orientalis), high stand density (especially coniferous forest, density is usually more than 80 trees/mu with increased risks of pests, diseases, and snow damage), evenness in forest age structure, lack of multiple functions and lack of science-based forest management. This project adopted CFM concepts through thinning competitor trees to promote the growth of target trees and desired naturally regenerated young trees to improve overall forest health. It also took replanting, reseeding, and other tending measures to foster the multiple-layer uneven-aged conifer-broadleaved mixture structure of water protection forests. Fig.2 shows planting in shrubland in Shichangyu.
The thinned wood is sold, providing income for local communities, or left in the field to improve forest biodiversity, as coarse woody debris can provide shelter and nutrition for birds and animals. In areas where few other species grow and thus the natural seed source is limited, the number of forest species was expanded through enrichment planting. A mixture of species will also be less susceptible to pest attacks.

Fig.2 Planting in shrubland in Shichangyu
Developing ecotourism in Long Mountain Valley

Over the past decades, the relationship between people and nature in China, especially in cities like Beijing, has shifted dramatically. The urban population increasingly appreciates the importance of forests for their health and recreational values. New industries like forest therapy or ecotourism have emerged, and well-paid urbanites are more interested in seeking experiences connecting them with nature. Long Mountain Valley, one of the three project sites, is uniquely well-suited for ecotourism development. Located remotely enough to avoid the influence of the larger cities but well connected to transport systems, the valley has a small village at the center. Offering ecotourism opportunities can benefit the rural community and the citizens of Beijing.
A master plan for eco-tourism has been developed for the Long Mountain Valley in the Shichangyu project site. The master plan divides the area into four zones and functions: forest therapy, forest education and experience, farming practice exhibition, and forest research and demonstration. Local villagers were also trained in sustainable tourism concepts. At the same time, farmers were taught how to use fewer chemicals in the sustainable management of walnut and chestnut orchards while sustaining or increasing crop yields. Based on existing resources and facilities, several forest therapy events have been organized for different target groups on the site (see Fig.3).

Fig.3 Forest therapy, forest education, and farming practice experience activities organized in Long Mountain Valley

Project Outcomes

The project implemented close-to-nature forest management for an area of 283 ha in three project sites of Shichangyu, Shitanglu, and Maoshigou in the Miyun Reservoir Watershed, demonstrating the transformation of monoculture forests into mixed forests in three protection priority areas. Therefore, management of the low-efficiency shrubland and the Pinus tabuliformis and Platycladus orientalis plantations in the three project sites has improved the stand structure and water conservation capacity of the forest. Biodiversity also improved. Mainly, there is more natural regeneration of elms, basswoods, maples, and other indigenous broad-leaved tree species.
Forest management and other activities in the three project sites provided local forestry community residents with direct and indirect work opportunities. Forest management has improved local landscape and eco-tourism, which offered employment opportunities. Some residents get income by providing accommodations to urban residents who are coming, especially to Long Mountain Valley.  Residents involved in forest management activities got an average of 4,000 RMB (30% of their total annual income) per person each year. For example, wood harvesting was the primary income source for the local community. The project also demonstrated eco-orchard management by introducing better quality seedlings, grafting techniques, and training on better management.
Recently, one of the project sites, Shichangyu, was recognized as a Demonstration Site for Multi-Functional Forests and Close-to-nature Forest Management by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Forestry and Parks and the Beijing Agriculture College. According to the socio-economic evaluation conducted in three project sites in May 2018, forest management has facilitated the growth of certain medicinal herbs (Bupleurum chinese and Dendrobium officinale Kimura et Migo). The building of road systems has improved access to those plants, and residents can collect those plants for use or sell to others. Road systems and facilities built in Long Mountain Valley have eased local farming and provided residents with more leisure opportunities.
Then, it demonstrated eco-tourism development in a less developed forest area in the Miyun Reservoir Watershed, providing a model for similar areas in the watershed, and produced best practice models for integrated forest management and eco-tourism. The project’s eco-tourism development has gained much attention in Beijing, other provinces in China, and internationally. Significantly, the concept of forest therapy developed and practiced in Long Mountain Valley in the Shichangyu project site has been spread across China. Long Mountain Valley has been listed as a demonstration area for forest therapy in Beijing, along with Songshan Nature Reserve and Badaling National Forest Parks. There have been efforts from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Forestry and Parks to develop forest therapy in the city further.
It can be assumed that project activities had a sustainable impact. Eco-tourism is a focus of the executing agency in Long Mountain Valley, and it is expected that the concept of forest therapy will continue to be successful in China in the future. Hence, the project executing agency has a long-term plan for eco-tourism in Long Mountain Valley to continue improving infrastructure and developing forest therapy and forest experience programs at the site in the future.

 Project documents
2015P2-MY Project Proposal
2015P2-MY Completion Report

 News and related information
Integrated Forest Management for Miyun Reservoir Watershed