More green areas still needed
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.