Forestry authority planning national hiking trail system

Updated: Aug 30, 2019 By Yang Wanli China Daily Print
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File photo of a forest trail. [Photo/Xinhua]

The forestry authority is drafting a development plan to speed up construction of the country's scenic trails, aiming to build a nationwide system by 2050.

The plan will provide a blueprint for construction of scenic trails in the next three decades, and will standardize service and management, an official from the State Forestry and Grassland Administration said on Wednesday.

China now has 12 national scenic trails with a total length of 22,000 kilometers located in 20 provinces and regions.

The administration revealed the country's first five trails in 2017, followed by four other trails in November and three on Aug 13.

Most of those trails are located in well-known mountains, including Taihang Mountain, Wuyi Mountain and Tianmu Mountain.

"But the construction of China's national scenic trails is still at an early stage. Most of those trails lack service support for hikers, such as lavatories or food and water stations," said Cheng Hong, deputy director of the administration's forest tourism office.

He said the administration will organize experts to visit some European countries and the United States, and draw on their experiences in drafting the plan.

The US, for example, established the world's first national scenic trail-the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, which extends from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. With a total length of 3,540 km, it is also the longest hiking-only trail in the world and attracts more than 2 million people each year.

"As China has witnessed a significant improvement of people's living conditions, more people are developing a stronger awareness of health and seeking tourist experiences with a deeper connection with nature," Cheng said.

"They want to see beautiful scenery, eat organic food, breathe fresh air and hear the voices of wildlife. Forest tourism will definitely be a booming trend in the future, and the trail will also play a crucial role," he added.

According to the administration, China is estimated to have more than 60 million hiking fans.

"Compared to other natural scenic spots, enjoying the trail will take a long time and is more physically demanding," said Ban Yong, a designer who is responsible for the field study for the natural scenic trail construction plan in Beijing.

"So related services, including road signs, parking lots and camping areas, should also be designed along the trail," he said.

In the future, Cheng said, national scenic trails will play a crucial role in public education about nature and ecological protection.

On Wednesday, Cheng also announced that the fifth China Forest Tourism Festival will kick off in Nantong, Jiangsu province, on Oct 19. During the festival, tourists can enjoy various activities, including forest music and hiking.

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