Saihanba becomes green again after decades of hard work by people involved in turning a desert area into a forest. [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]
When Guo Jingyu traveled to the Saihanba National Forest Park for the first time, he was a teenager. And his only memory of the park was the vast grassland.
But many years later, in 2015, Guo, then a TV producer and director, learned more about the area, which is located in Hebei province and borders the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
Zhou Zhongming, Party secretary of Chengde, Hebei province, told Guo about those who had devoted their entire lives to reviving the area.
The conversation sparked Guo's interest and paved the way for the TV series Zuimei de Qingchun (Most Beautiful Youth).
In the Great Hall of the People in Beijing last week, Guo alongside the cast and crew wore black T-shirts with the drama's name to promote the 40-episode series, which began filming on Sept 5 in Saihanba. The filming is expected to take around five months.
The story starts in 1962 with 127 college or vocational school graduates joining 242 employees in the local forest farm.
Saihanba was a popular hunting ground for northern China's rulers in the 10th century, and for emperors of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
But the area's natural environment deteriorated because of unlimited logging.
In the early 1950s, Saihanba was no more an oasis, but barren land. And it became a passage for sand blowing into Beijing from the deserts in Inner Mongolia.
Estimates then said that the sand would bury the Chinese capital within decades if the situation continued.