Situated in Chengde, north China’s Hebei Province, Mulan Hunting Ground was an imperial hunt of the Qing dynasty. It is regarded as Beijing’s backyard garden.
It consists of 3 scenic spots: Saihanba National Forest Park, Yudaokou Grassland and Forest Scenic Zone and Hongsongwa National Nature Reserve. Among them, Saihanba National Forest Park is the largest forest park in northern China.
In 1681, Emperor Kangxi developed and designated this 14,000 sq km area as the imperial hunting ground, the largest in Chinese history.
Starting in 1683 the imperial hunting was held annually at Mulan during the autumn, lasting up to a month. The emperor himself participated in the hunt, along with thousands of soldiers, imperial family members, and government officials.
Each year, for the duration of the hunt, Mulan served as a temporary capital and a venue for diplomatic activities.
The summer climate is amicable in the region, the maximum temperature generally does not exceed 25°C (77 degrees Fahrenheit).
Ordinary people were forbidden entry to Mulan, either to hunt or fell trees, until 1826.
Mulan Hunting Ground features fertile grasslands and many wildlife species.
Saihanba was later turned into a desert by the end of the Qing Dynasty due to forest fires, deforestation and constant wars. Desertification was also accelerated by the strong winds from the north.
The expansion of the desert also led to Beijing grappling with decades of sandstorms, which threatened the capital’s environment.
Over 350 foresters were first sent to the region to fight the desertification as early as the 1960s.
While Saihanba was a wasteland, the foresters had to build shelters and plant crops for themselves (not as good as per the above photo). After 55 years of efforts by three generation of foresters, forest cover rate was increased from 11.4 percent to 80 percent.
Today the largest artificial forest farm in China stands on what was Mulan Hunting Ground. It is now designated a national scenic spot.
Photos from photo.cctv.com