Beijing Plain Area Afforestation Programme (BPAP) - Beijing, China

Area characterisation: 

Biogeographic region: Humid Continental/North China Plain

Surface area: 6338 km2 (633,800 ha)

Country: China

Region/Province: Beijing, China (code of Administrative boundary: 110000)

Beijing is located in the north of China and has a metropolitan area of 16,410 km2. With a size of 6338 km2, the plain area is the most developed and densely populated area within the city. However, the forest coverage in the plain area was only 14.85% in 2011, far behind the mountainous average of 37%. Most of Beijing’s forests are located in the mountainous areas in the northwest while small and fragmented forest patches are dominated in the plain area (Wang et al., 2013). Thus, the urban forests failed to meet the demands of residents since citizens have to drive 40–50 km if they want to visit a forest. Beijing also faces air pollution, the urban heat island effect and other environmental issues. To mitigate these environmental pressures and improve urban resilience, the municipal government in Beijing has launched the largest afforestation Programme in its history in 2012, which is called Beijing Plain Area Afforestation Programme (BPAP).

With the aim to create huge forest patches, develop urban forest park clusters and optimise the large-scale forest patterns, BPAP has proposed green strategies with nine green wedges, multiple greenbelts, and green corridors around the old city centre in Beijing. BPAP has planned to plant 66,674 hectares of new trees by converting vacant lots, croplands, sand excavation pits and wastelands to forests, parks and wetlands from 2012 to 2015.

By the end of 2015, BPAP has increased the forest coverage from 14.8% (2011) to 25% (2015) in the plain area, more than 70,000 hectares of forest (more than 54 million trees) have been planted and the survival rate has exceeded 95% (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2018). BPAP has been considered as the most ambitious project for a high-density urbanised area.


With the aim to create huge forest patches, develop urban forest park clusters and optimise the large-scale forest patterns, BPAP has proposed green strategies with nine green wedges, multiple greenbelts, and green corridors around the old city centre in Beijing. 

Objectives further include:

  • Improving the forest coverage and urban greenspace connectivity in urbanised areas by planting more than 54 million trees, enhancing biodiversity;
  • Providing health and wellbeing benefits through the use of the recreation facilities;
  • Providing educational facilities for local residents and visitors.

PRINCIPLE UF-NbS (Urban Forests as Nature-Based Solutions) ACTION(S)

Provision of new infrastructure/facilities:

  • Forest plantations
  • Restoration of sand excavation pits, wastelands and some urban-built up area (e.g. impervious surface) in cities
  • Improvement of urban forest landscape connectivities, e.g. planting trees along roads and rivers to create ecological corridors
  • Construction of multiple scale urban parks
  • Annual afforestation and reforestation


  • Recycling of construction waste/garbage (e.g. using concrete from removed buildings in landscape architecture such as park paths, garden ornaments)
  • Recreational and environmental educational activities (e.g., workshops for urban birds, bees or butterfly biodiversity)
  • Provide the field site for urban field station
NbS benefits 
  • Greater ecological connectivity across urban regenerated sites
  • Improve connectivity and functionality of green and blue infrastructures
  • Increase Biodiversity
  • Increase well-being
  • Provision of health benefits
  • Social learning about location & importance of NBS
Transferability of the result: 

BPAP is a good example of Top-Down UF-NbS (Urban Forests as Nature-Based Solutions) planning that can be applied to rapidly urbanising cities with limited lands for urban greenspace. However, citizens’ participation was insufficient during the planning and implementation of this project.

Lessons learned: 

The strong administrative capacity in BPAP has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of the project in a highly urbanised area. Despite the ecosystem services provided by increased urban greenspace areas, BPAP contributes to improve the citizens’ awareness of environmental protection. Through the BPAP, citizens realise that the urban forests and trees can improve the quality of their life, and play important roles in urban ecosystems.


Project delivered services and monies raised by project:

Assessment of new afforestation ecosystem services was conducted by CAF-RIF.

City, regional general funds:

This project was mainly funded by municipal and district government revenues. Total expense of the BPAP reached $5.0 billion USD from 2012 to 2015.

Private sector investment:

Very few non-government investment also exists, for various economical purposes such as tourism.

NbS classification 
  • Tree and forest plantations
  • Community Parks
  • Woodland play area
  • Riverbank green
  • Bioswales with trees and constructed wetlands
  • Choice of plants

Beijing Municipal Forestry and Parks Bureau (Office of Beijing Greening Commission)

Beijing, China

Tel: + 86 (10) 84273060

Further information

The compilation of this case study description has been funded by the Horizon 2020 CLEARING HOUSE project. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 821242.

Sustainable Development Goals 
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 15. Life On Land
Key Performance Indicators: