FORESTRY officials in east China’s Zhejiang Province recently opened an online poll where Internet users were invited to cast their vote for the 15 most beautiful forests in the province. Here is a look at some of the top picks, including the No. 1 ranked Tianmu Mountain Ancient Woods in Lin’an County.
Luhetang Nanmu Forest
The forest is located in Jiande County of Hangzhou, north of Xin’an River and south of the Qiandao Lake area. At present, it is considered one of the oldest nanmu forests in Asia.
Nanmu — a type of evergreen tree also called phoebe nees — has a long history of being used in China for boat building, architectural woodworking and wood crafts. Nanmu pieces are highly prized since it can take 1,000 years for these trees to mature and produce useful timber.
The wood’s superior durability makes it resistant to decay. In ancient times, nanmu was often used to make coffins for members of the upper class, as evidenced by their frequent appearance in burial sites.
The earliest references to the nanmu forest in present day Luhetang date back some 1,500 years ago. Today, lush nanmu trees cover an area of some 30 hectares, opening up expansive natural vistas to visitors and nature enthusiasts.
The forests is also home to some 300 other plant varieties and 30 animal species.
For travelers, the forest is also equipped with hotels and restaurants. The area is a favorite among local hikers and outdoor adventurers.
How to get there: Shanghai-Kunming Expressway — Hangzhou-Ningbo Expressway — Changchun-Shenzhen Expressway — Hangzhou-Xin’anjiang-Jingdezhen Expressway
Lin’an County Tianmu Mountain Ancient Woods
Ever since this area was zoned as a national nature protection area in the 1950s, multiple measures have been introduced to enrich species diversity and expand vegetation cover. Today, more than 99 percent of this 1,051-hectare protected region is covered by vegetation.
In 1996, the region was inducted into the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program, making it the only site of its kind in Zhejiang to be recognized by the international cultural and natural heritage organization.
Dozens of rare plant species have been discovered there and named after the area. The reserve also has China’s oldest ginkgo biotic community with a 1,500-year-old ginkgo king. Currently, 35 endangered plants and 37 threatened animals live in this protection area.
In addition to being a natural reserve, Tianmu Mountain is also a cultural epicenter where an abundance of Buddhists, Taoists and Confucian relics are situated. Archaeological evidence indicates that humans were living in the vicinity of the forest as early as the Shang (16th century-11th century BC) and the Zhou (11th century-256 BC) dynasties.
How to get there: Shanghai-Kunming Expressway — Hangzhou-Ningbo Expressway — Hangzhou-Rui’an Expressway
Muxin Valley at Qiandao Lake area
The Muxin Valley covers an area of 166.6 hectares. Though part of the Qiandao Lake Scenic Area, the valley is about 30 minutes by car from the main tourism area and remains largely untouched by human development.
The valley’s climate has helped officials turn it into the site of Zhejiang’s largest artificial metasequoia forest. The planting of metasequoia trees, a type of fast-growing redwood conifer, began some 40 years ago and today the largest trees are around 60 centimeters in diameter.
In 2003, this area was zoned as a protected forest. As a result, this prompted even more planting and artificial cultivation.
The Muxin Valley is frequently visited by backpackers and those craving a pure natural environment.
How to get there: Shanghai-Kunming Expressway — Changchun-Shenzhen Expressway — Hangzhou-Xin’anjiang-Jingdezhen Expressway
Source: Shanghai Daily