Project lists

Rehabilitation and management of degraded forests in Miyun Reservoir Watershed, Beijing
02 Sep 2021     
Project title Rehabilitation and management of degraded forests in Miyun Reservoir Watershed, Beijing
Supervisory agency Beijing Municipal Bureau of Forestry and Parks (BMBFP)
Executing agency Beijing Forestry Society (BFS)
Budget in USD (Total/APFNet grant) 696,300/491,100
Duration July 2015–June 2018
Target economy China
Location Miyun Watershed, Beijing and Hebei Province, China
Focus topics Thinning, close-to-nature forest management, watershed management, ecotourism
  1. Improve forest management on project sites by applying close-to-nature forest management approaches.
  2. Reduce water pollution caused by fertilizer application in orchards.
  3. Improve livelihoods of the local community by promoting the development of forest recreation activities (ecotourism).
  4. Enhance the capacity of stakeholders to manage forests in environment-friendly ways.
  5. Produce best practice models for long-term forest management in the watershed.
Expected outputs
  1. Monoculture plantations of Pinus tabuliformis and Platycladus orientalis (Linn.) Franco (280 ha) in three project sites are managed in a close-to-nature approach.
  2. Livelihoods of local community improved by development of ecotourism.
  3. Capacity of relevant stakeholders in managing forests and ecotourism services improved.
  4. Experiences and lessons learned summarized and disseminated.

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. However, with the highest number of billionaires in the world, the city can help develop clean water sources in the surrounding rural areas of Beijing and Hebei province and improve rural livelihoods through ecotourism and marketing of local forest products.
The APFNet-supported project “Rehabilitation and management of degraded forests in Miyun Watershed, Beijing” tackled both these challenges. The project aimed to enhance the ecological functions of forests in the Miyun Watershed which feeds into the Miyun reservoir, Beijing’s main reservoir and source of surface drinking water. At the same time, a comprehensive plan for ecotourism and improvement of the production of local forest products, such as walnut, will be developed in one of the three project sites to provide a model for improving rural livelihoods.
Improving forests, improving water
Forests, by virtue of their ability to create their own humid microclimate and extend their roots deep into the soil, are nature’s most effective water filters. However, due to historic deforestation, the forests in the Miyun Watershed have been replaced by barren slopes or low-functioning shrubland. In areas that were afforested through national reforestation programmes, monoculture forests have taken hold. Their lack of diverse structure and high density have hindered their ability to filter water and reduce runoff to the Miyun Reservoir as the trees themselves are using valuable water resources for survival.
The project set out to restore those areas to a more natural forest state. One key activity was thinning 280 ha of Platycladus orientalis or Pinus tabuliformis stands, according to close-to-nature forest management standards and a forest management plan. By thinning out trees, the forest’s water use decreased and it enables the forest to slowly convert into a more natural mixed forest from residual seed sources. 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. 
The results and insights are published in the book written by Beijing Forestry Society “Integrated Watershed Management in the Miyun Area” and an online knowledge hub ( of best forest management practices and lessons learned from the project.

Close-to-nature forest management
Close-to-nature forest management originated in Germany and is based on the idea of managing a forest by working with nature instead of against it. It respects the natural constraints and manages it in accordance with its ecology to achieve high-quality forest stands. The results are mixed, structurally diverse forests that are in a much better position to deliver forest ecosystem services such as water filtering and increased water yield.

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 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 out experiences that will connect them with nature. Within the city, however, such opportunities are scarce.
In contrast, near Beijing, average annual incomes are much lower but natural resources are abundant. 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 centre. Offering ecotourism opportunities will benefit both the rural community and the citizens of Beijing.
After developing a comprehensive plan, the project constructed forest trails and an environmental education centre in the village. This basic infrastructure will act as a base for conducting other activities. Local villagers were also trained in sustainable tourism concepts. At the same time, farmers were taught how to use less chemicals in the sustainable management of walnut and chestnut orchards, while sustaining or increasing crop yields.