Located in the northernmost part of Hebei Province, Saihanba is one of the largest man-made forests in the world.
Covering an area of about 93,000 hectares, Saihanba is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna. Its stunning natural environment attracts flocks of tourists every year.
However, it wasn't always this way. Traveling back in time to the 1950s, the former royal retreat had become a virtual wasteland as a result of rampant deforestation, which in turn threatened the country's capital, Beijing, and adjacent regions with harsh and frequent sandstorms.
An epic endeavor began in 1962 to transform the barren wilderness into a green "miracle," populated by 500 million trees.
Forest coverage has increased from 11.4 percent to 80 percent in six decades. It cleans and purifies some 137 million cubic meters of clean water for residents of Beijing and Tianjin, while absorbing 860,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide and releasing 598,400 tonnes of oxygen.
From infrared radar fire detection and early lightning warning monitoring to forest fire video monitoring and satellite hotspot monitoring, advanced technologies have been adopted to help guard the forest against fire.
"Our system automatically alerts the forest keepers via phones once a lightning bolt approaches the forest with a beyond-standard power," said Peng Zhijie, director of the Saihanba forest fire prevention office. "We also use drones to patrol the neighboring environment of the forest."
Thanks to these technologies, the forest has been protected well while benefiting the people. President Xi Jinping praised the green achievements at Saihanba in 2021, saying "the area's transformation has created a model in the world's history of ecological progress."
Respect nature, and benefits will flow
"All beings flourish when they live in harmony and receive nourishment from nature." This is a Chinese saying from the great thinker Xunzi more than 2,000 years ago, which Xi quoted in a speech delivered at the Leaders' Summit on Climate via video link from Beijing in April 2021. Saihanba is a vivid example, reflecting how the harmonious development of humans and nature can lead to a greener future.
Xi said, "Mother Nature has nourished us, and we must treat nature as our root, respect it, protect it, and follow its laws. Failure to respect nature or follow its laws will only invite its revenge."
In 2020, China announced twin goals of peaking carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060 to secure sustainable development.
In the report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last October, pushing forward green development and the harmonious relationship between man and nature was among the key tasks set for the country's journey ahead in the next five years.