Mature forests have been almost completely destroyed in China’s northern regions, but this has been followed by large-scale reforestation in the wake of environmental degradation. Although future forest plantations are expected to expand over millions of hectares, knowledge about the ecology and biodiversity of China’s replanted forests remains very limited. Addressing these knowledge gaps, we recorded ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) communities in five secondary forest types: plantations of Chinese Pine (Pinus tabulaeformis) and Prince Rupprecht’s Larch (Larix principis-rupprechtii), Oak (Quercus wutaishanica) and Asian White Birch (Betula platyphylla) woodlands, and naturally regenerated mixed forest. Species richness peaked in mixed forests, while pine and oak woodlands harboured discrete communities of intermediate species richness. Oak, pine and mixed forest habitats also showed high levels of species turnover between plots. Canopy closure was an important factor influencing ground beetle assemblages and diversity, and a number of forest specialist species only occurred in pine or oak forests. We believe that some forest specialists have survived earlier deforestation and appear to be supported by new plantation forests, but maintenance of secondary native oak and mixed forests is crucial to safeguard the overall species pool.