Qiu Xiuling has noticed a lot of positive changes to his mountainous village in Miyun County over the past nine years.
The place is looking decidedly greener, thanks to the Miyun Reservoir, which is responsible for supplying 70 percent of Beijing's drinking water.
Qiu, a farmer-turned-forester, and his fellow villagers have planted tens of thousands of trees for an international water source protection project in their area.
They now have access to running tap water, a clean garbage collection system, flushing toilets and wider roads.
Initiated in 1998, the Sino-German project was made possible by China's forestry and commerce authorities and their counterparts from Germany, with 100 million yuan (US$13.2 million) funding.
This forestry-oriented land and water protection project is a first of its kind, and aims to protect Beijing's major water source by keeping the immediate surrounds forested.
"Seeking sustainable water source methods to satisfy 16 million residents is urgent in this thirsty city," Wang Xiaoping, director of the Beijing Forestry Department of International Cooperation, said.
With the decreasing supply from its upper reaches, Miyun reservoir now holds only 1.1 billion cu m water, a quarter of its designed capacity.
"Drought and environmental degradation have hampered the reservoir's water holding capacity and supply function," Wang said.
But Wang said the Miyun reservoir model "deserved wider application" in other places that rely on surface water as drinking water.
Skala Kuhmann from GTZ, the project's German partner, said keeping the environment clean was one effective way to guarantee sustainable water supply to Beijing.
More than 20,000 villagers have been taking part in a local campaign by planting tens of thousands of trees and patches of organic orchard on the once barren mountain
Now vegetation coverage is 10 per cent higher with plant diversity on a significant rise, while the use of chemicals and fertilizers has decreased by 50 percent.
Christoph Peisert, chief expert of the project, said: "It's not a simple tree-planting process but an eco-protection project".
The project was carried out under the framework of Sino-German technical cooperation agreement signed in 1982 by the governments.
(China Daily August 24, 2007)