As the leaves are falling in Beijing and everyone is getting ready for the cold season, Chang-yu-gou (长峪沟，Long Mountain Valley) is brimming with activity. As part of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Network (APFNet) Project, the village is set to become the new center for forest education, culture and forest therapy. Since spring, a number of new sites are in construction and restoration. The most important ones and heart of the future forest education village are three new buildings, including a welcome center, a building focusing on forest culture and a wood workshop with a classroom.
The welcome center boasts with a viewing platform that overlooks the area, offering an astonishing vista in the future. The forest culture building will provide basics about forest experience, forest culture and other important aspects of forests and forestry. All of these buildings will be open to the interested traveler, professionals or school and university classes. It is expected that their construction will be finished in 2017.
An important aspect of the remodeling of Long Mountain Valley is the restoration of the historical buildings there. The buildings have experienced the wear and tear from the harsh climate for decades and some had to be abandoned due to the accumulated damage. As culture and history are important parts of the village’s identity, restoring these buildings will also benefit locals living in the village and enrich the experience of anybody visiting.
The third activity being conducted is the creation of system of paths throughout the mountains surrounding the village. These consist of three different types: forest education paths, recreational paths and paths suitable for camping. There is also potential for additional trails for forest therapy, exercise, etc. This way the area will be able to cater to many different types of tourists.
The forest education path is a special gem, as it not only brings the visitor closer to the forest and the local uses of the forest simply by visiting it, but will also offer tour guides. With their extensive knowledge they will be able to answer all questions visitors might have. As the education path also includes several open-air classrooms, it does not have to be used just for hiking, but can include workshops and lectures for students. One can learn about methods used to cultivate hawthorn orchards, while others can get a closer look at the forest restoration efforts or the change in vegetation composition when approaching the top of the hill. Of course, there is always the option to simply go for a refreshing hike, as the trail system spans a wide area around Shichangyu.
An important part of the general forest restoration efforts and one of the main activities in the larger APFNet project are the improvement thinnings conducted in existing plantations, some of which are located in Long Mountain Valley. As the densely growing trees are being marked for the thinning to give them more growth space, in future years visitors will be able to see how native species are establishing as seedlings in the forest that is then enriched with light, slowly transforming it into a more natural forest.
Chang-Yu-Gou is on its way to becoming the new forest education and recreation center in the Miyun area and according to schedule will open its doors in July 2017. Until then, stay tuned to hear more about the progress being made!