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 [project ID: 2015P2-MYN]
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: 07/2015-06/2018
Target economy: China
Site Location: Miyun Watershed, Beijing, China
Objectives: To improve the water conservation capacity of the forests in three sites of the project by applying close-to-nature management approach; to reduce water pollution caused by fertilizer application in the orchard selected; to improve the livelihood of the local community selected by promoting the development of forest recreation; to enhance the capacity of relevant stakeholders in forest management in environment-friendly manner; to produce best practice models for a better long-term forest management in the watershed.

Expected outputs: Monoculture plantations of Pinus tabuliformis and Platycladus orientalis (Linn.) Franco of 280 hectares in three project sites are managed in a close-to-nature approach; The livelihood of local community improved by promoting eco-tourism; Capacity of relevant stakeholders in managing forest and eco-tourism improved; Experience and lessons learned summarized and disseminated


Project background
Beijing, China’s capital located in the dry Northeast of the country, is a mega-city in the true sense: it has managed to draw millions of people and is still rapidly expanding. This puts the city and its surroundings in a unique position of challenges and opportunities. As one of the most water-scarce cities in the world (the per capita availability of water is only 1/30 of the world’s average) it has to constantly strive to provide a reliable and clean water source. As one of the most populous cities with the highest number of billionaires in the world, it can help develop the surrounding rural areas in Beijing and Hebei province through eco-tourism and marketing of local products. The APFNet-supported project “Rehabilitation and Management of Degraded Forests in Miyun Watershed, Beijing” aimed to both tackle those challenges, while also embracing the opportunities given. The project aims to enhance the ecological functions of forests in the Miyun watershed which feeds into the Miyun reservoir, Beijing’s main reservoir for providing surface drinking water for the city. At the same time in one of the three project sites, a comprehensive plan for ecotourism and the improvement of the production of local products, such as walnut, will be developed in order to provide a model for improving rural livelihoods in the area.

Project featured topics   
Forest Thinning and Watershed Management
Forests, by virtue of their ability to create their own humid microclimate and extending their roots deep into the soil, are nature’s most effective water filter. However, due to historic deforestation, those forests have been replaced by barren mountains or low-functioning shrubland in the area. In areas that were afforested through national reforestation programs, monocultures have taken hold. Their lack of diverse structure and high density have hindered their ability to filter water and reduced runoff to the Miyun Reservoir as trees themselves are also using more valuable water resource for surviving. The project set out to restore those areas to a more natural state. A key tool to achieve this change was the thinning of 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, while also slowly converting it into a more natural mixed forest. The thinned wood is sold, providing income for local communities, or left in the field to improve forest biodiversity, as those coarse woody debris can provide shelter and nutrition for birds and animals. The mixture of species, partially enhanced through enrichment planting in areas where few other species grow and thus the natural seed source is limited, will ensure more effective and sustainable water filtering as diverse forests will be less susceptible to pest attacks.  Those results and insights are both reflected in the book “Integrated Watershed Management in the Miyun Area” and a knowledge hub that will display best-management practices regarding forest management 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 forests ecosystem services such as water filtering and increased water yield.
In the past decades the relationship of people and nature in China, especially in metropoles like Beijing has shifted dramatically. The urban population increasingly appreciates forests for their health and recreational values. New industries like forest therapy or eco-tourism emerge and urbanites are more and more interested in seeking out experiences that will connect them with nature. Within the city, however, such opportunities are scarce. In contrast, right outside Beijing, the average annual income is a fraction of the capital’s while natural resources are abundant. Few areas are as uniquely well suited for seizing such opportunities as Long Mountain Valley, one of the three project sites. Located remotely enough to avoid the influence of the larger cities, but well connected to the larger traffic system and with a small village at the center, the valley easily lends itself to eco-tourism development and a center for environmental education that will benefit both the rural community, but also the citizens of Beijing. In order to develop eco-tourism after developing a comprehensive plan, the project constructed forest trails and an environmental education center. This basic infrastructure will act as the center out of which other interactive activities will be conducted. Local villagers were also trained in the fundamentals of sustainable tourism. At the same time, to improve both production and the sustainability of local products, farmers were taught how to use less chemicals in their walnut and chestnut orchards while sustaining or increasing their yield.