The view of Saihanba Forest. [Photo/CGTN]
A group of Chinese forest guards working to protect Saihanba Forest in North China’s Hebei province has set out to the Kenyan capital Nairobi for the third UN Environment Assembly, after Saihanba Forest Farm was nominated for the 2017 Champions of the Earth awards.
The world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment is gathering from Dec 4 to 6 in the African country to discuss the overarching problem of pollution, which has posed severe menace to the earth, its resources and human health.
Tourists visit the Qixing Lake Scenic Area of Saihanba National Forest Park.[Photo/Xinhua]
Outstanding organizations and individuals who have contributed greatly to environmental protection or have impacted the environment in a positive way are given the awards annually.
Saihanba Forest stretches along the borders of Hebei province and Inner Mongolia autonomous region. It was a royal hunting ground over 300 years ago, and during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), the emperors hunted there almost every year.
After the Qing Dynasty collapsed, the area was turned into a wasteland due to deforestation, wildfires and years of wars. Starting 1962, China began to restore the vegetation of the area, and over the past 55 years, three generations of forest guards have worked on its preservation.
The forestry workers have overcome extreme weather and living conditions over the years. The highest temperature in the area is around 33 degrees Celsius, while the lowest is around -43 degrees Celsius. Some areas are covered in snow for seven months a year, and others are affected by gale and sandstorm.
The view of Saihanba Forest. [Photo/Xinhua]
After years of hard work, Saihanba Forest now enjoys an area of 94,000 hectares, and at least 73,000 hectares are covered with thick forestry. There are over 600 kinds of vascular plants, belonging to 312 genera and 81 families. The forest coverage rate is nearly 80 percent.
Tourism developed in the area in the past years, and a wetland park of 1,000,000 square meters has been established. The park is paved with 5,000 meters of boardwalks and has eight attractions.
Annually, over 500,000 tourists visit the area, bringing in 40 million yuan ($6 million).
The Champions of the Earth awards have been awarded to people in different categories of political leadership, grassroots action, scientific innovation, or entrepreneurial vision since 2005.
This year, the three-day event will feature sidebar events to fight pollution in various forms.
The UN Environment vowed that “a number of tangible commitments to end the pollution of our air, land, waterways, oceans and safely manage chemicals and waste” would be delivered.