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Beijing Kicks off Park Drive

2007-06-07

Beijing will expand its green space by building 30 new parks this year and an additional 30 before the start of the 2008 Olympic Games, an official with the municipal bureau of landscape and forestry said. Twenty of the new parks will be in the city proper, covering a total area of 100 hectares. The 10 remaining parks will be in the suburbs and occupy a little less than 667 hectares.
"The capital city has made it a goal to create a situation in which every citizen is never more than 500 meters from a city park by 2010," Lian Guozhao, chief of the bureau's urban forestation division, said on Tuesday. "In order to achieve this goal, Beijing will be building 10 to 20 new city parks every year from now on." The 30 parks slated to be built next year will line the fourth and fifth ring roads. All of the parks, which will be in five urban and suburban districts, will be open to the public for free. Construction work on the parks started earlier this month. The parks will serve the dual purpose of providing leisure spaces to the public and improving the environment in the capital. All of the new parks will be planned with conservation in mind. For instance, the Rainwater Park being built in Changping District will feature a special rainwater collection and recirculation system that will supply water to a musical fountain, park toilets and cleaning facilities. "There will be no artificial lakes and less garden sculptures, but more plants. More than 70 percent of the plants should be tall trees," said Lan Bingcai, another official with the bureau. Lan said the plan was based on a parks system developed in Hong Kong that calls for urban spaces that are more than 90 percent green. Drawing on Hong Kong's experience, the municipal government has spent 20 million yuan ($2.6 million) on building park circles along the fourth and fifth ring roads in recent years. It has built 29 parks covering a total area of about 2,700 hectares. Another 30 new parks covering about 1,300 hectares will be completed before the 2008 Olympic Games. This will be an important step toward achieving a "Green Olympics". At that point there will be a park every 3 km, covering a total area equal to about 14 Summer Palaces. Restaurants and shopping malls will occupy the spaces near the parks to provide facilities for visitors and offer more job opportunities, officials said.

(Source:China Daily, 2007-06-07)