More green ar­eas still needed

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWOCENTS - By David Lee Page Edi­tor: li­u­meng@glob­al­times.com. cn

Green spa­ces are cher­ished by all Bei­jingers. Pre­vi­ously, lush lawns were a rar­ity in Beijing, given the huge main­te­nance costs. The good news is that now the in­creas­ingly af­flu­ent and aes­thet­i­cally ad­vanc­ing Chi­nese cap­i­tal has green lawns, most fa­mously the large lakeside one lo­cated in­side the Olympic Park to the north of the city proper.

But, now that we have them, a new prob­lem has arisen: camp­ing out on pub­lic lawns. A Beijing Morn­ing Post re­porter counted over 100 tents on the lakeside lawn re­cently. Campers said they had to get there very early; oth­er­wise, it would be im­pos­si­ble to get a nice spot.

The pub­lic park reg­u­la­tions in Beijing do not in­clude spe­cific clauses that pro­hibit camp­ing out on pub­lic lawns. The in­di­vid­ual parks have to cre­ate their own rules about camp­ing. Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia re­ports, the Olympic Park does not have an out­right ban on camp­ing, but park of­fi­cials do try to dis­suade peo­ple from camp­ing on newly grown or oth­er­wise vul­ner­a­ble grass.

Who doesn’t want to have fun with fam­ily and friends on a beau­ti­ful park lawn and en­joy the ameni­ties the city and the weather can pro­vide? Many would also ar­gue that it’s com­mon to see peo­ple camp­ing on pub­lic lawns in city parks abroad. It just so hap­pens that Beijing is very crowded and green spa­ces are still scarce be­cause of the sheer size of the

city. Also, many of

the newly grown lawns are just not ready for big crowds yet.

It’s true that Beijing is grow­ing and catch­ing up. How­ever, it’s still not New York, which boasts Cen­tral Park where lo­cals en­joy pic­nics or Nagoya, Japan home to the fa­mous Tsu­ruma Park.

While I do hope that Beijing cre­ates more pub­lic lawns so that on a given day, a given lawn wouldn’t be over­whelmed or de­stroyed by tram­pling, it still takes time. So, we still need to heed the in­struc­tions of in­di­vid­ual parks as to the use of pub­lic lawns.

While urg­ing my fel­low city dwellers to con­sider the main­te­nance of pub­lic lawns, I’d also sug­gest that city pol­i­cy­mak­ers and park man­agers pro­vide more flex­i­ble ar­range­ments to make the best of avail­able lawn re­sources.

For the Olympic Park, I’d sug­gest more rig­or­ous mea­sures to pro­tect the cher­ished green space, as cur­rent mea­sures seem to be en­forced on an ad hoc ba­sis. For ex­am­ple, dif­fer­ent ar­eas could be open on a ro­ta­tional ba­sis to en­sure ad­e­quate main­te­nance. Of course, launch­ing any fee­based scheme for pub­lic lawns should be ap­proached with ex­treme cau­tion.

Also, sub­ur­ban ar­eas could pro­vide more green spa­ces. Some green ar­eas could be de­signed par­tic­u­larly for camp­ing. Such camp­ing sites al­ready ex­ist, and most of them are lo­cated far away from the city proper. I’d sug­gest that nearby sub­ur­ban ar­eas de­velop such lawns and camp­ing sites, backed by cau­tious and gen­er­ous ac­cess schemes.

Am I ask­ing too much? Maybe not, as city plan­ners are cur­rently re­lo­cat­ing in­dus­trial com­plexes. What I’m ask­ing for is more in­no­va­tive de­signs and maybe just a lit­tle bit more fund­ing to make the city greener and friend­lier so that city dwellers can en­joy bet­ter har­mo­niza­tion be­tween life, work and na­ture.

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