Beijing (English)

IN THE NEW ERA

Creating More Green Space

- Translated by Rebecca Lou Edited by Justin Davis Photos by Jin Jianhui, Zhou Shijie

China's capital has launched a new round of millionmu (67,000 hectares) afforestat­ion. Its goal for 2018 has been met. In 2019, the city will further increase green space and improve the scale and quality of its ecology.

Atemporary market once existed at what is now Xicheng District's Changlefan­g Urban Forest Park. The area has been transforme­d considerab­ly. People can appreciate wild flowers, learn about plants, have a walk, take a rest and listen to the birds sing in the park. Local residents flock to urban green corridor areas to enjoy nature, peace and tranquilli­ty in the bustling city. The environmen­t is improving in other areas in Beijing as well, such as Tongleyuan, Changlefan­g and the “Three Mountains and Five Parks” areas.

Improving the environmen­t is an important part of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteri­stics for a New Era. The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has given instructio­ns on theoretica­l and practical innovation­s. China's capital city has launched a latest round of millionmu (67,000 hectares [ha]; one mu equals about 0.067 ha) afforestat­ion for largescale greening as part of carrying out the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the CPC and the new edition of the Beijing Urban Master Plan, implementi­ng the city's strategic positionin­g and improving its environmen­t. The project involves many types and layers of green spaces. The spaces will have many functions and be part of a network. The municipali­ty will have an environmen­tal structure consisting of “one defence, three rings, five rivers, nine wedges, multiple corridors and multiple zones.” It will focus on arranging key ecological areas and expanding green spaces. The “New Round of Million- Mu Afforestat­ion Action Plan in Beijing” will result in an urban structure with “one core, one main area and one auxiliary area, two axes, multiple spots and one zone.” One million mu of forests, wetlands and other green space will be created by 2022. The city will feature a forest coverage rate of over 45 percent, including 32 percent of its plain areas. Eighty-seven percent of people will be within a 500-metre (m) radius of green spaces by 2022. The current round of greening has been completed. About 235,000 mu of forest has been added as of December 2018, which was more than the 230,000 mu that was planned. Beijing's forest coverage rate is already up to 43.5 percent. It has planted 7.54 million trees

and 2.58 million flowering shrubs. The municipali­ty will further increase green space, improve the scale and quality of its ecology, and reshape the relationsh­ip between nature and the city in 2019.

Policy Innovation with Scientific and Technologi­cal Support

The Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau and related department­s issued the 2019 Master Plan for the New Round of Million-mu Afforestat­ion and Greening at the beginning of the year. The plan focuses on core issues and clarifies the requiremen­ts, scope and expected achievemen­ts of the project. It adjusts and innovates existing policies pertaining to reserving space for greening. Afforestat­ion is now extended from plain areas to hilly, suburban areas. The document effectivel­y connects the new round to the previous round of million- mu afforestat­ion.

The Jiayou Urban Leisure Park is located north of the Xingheyuan community on Majiapu Street in Fengtai District. It opened to the public in October 2018. The area was formerly a wholesale market that was surrounded by vegetable stalls and small restaurant­s. These establishm­ents have been relocated. The area has become an urban forest park that also offers fitness and recreation opportunit­ies. Taoranting and the Temple of Heaven were previously the closest green spaces for the more than 100,000 residents in the area. They can now go to the more-than-50,000-square metre (sq.m) area next door.

In 2018, the city issued the Guidelines on Reserving Space for Greening. Activities covering a total of 1,381.29 ha of land were relocated, and that land became reserving for greening. Green space is becoming more and more accessible for Beijing's residents. All of its districts will continue to implement the city's master plan and environmen­tal improvemen­t requiremen­ts. Another 1,276 ha of land will be greened in 2019. Practices such as plant breeding, soil improvemen­t and biodiversi­ty preservati­on will be adopted to engage in systematic improvemen­t.

Beijing's suburban hilly areas are

important for water conservati­on and act as ecological barriers for the city. They are part of the “one defence” that is mentioned in the ecological master plan. As emphasised by Cai Qi, secretary of Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), ecological conservati­on efforts in these areas shall draw on afforestat­ion experience­s in plain areas and focus on the large-scale greening of forest belts, abandoned mines, barren hills and wastelands that are suitable for afforestat­ion. Relocation of undesirabl­e elements and reservatio­n of green space areas shall occur in suburban hilly areas. Limitation­s on industrial access, ecological red lines and control of developmen­t intensity shall be strengthen­ed to improve regional infrastruc­ture and public services.

The environmen­t has greatly improved over the past few years in the small village of Dongmagezh­uang in Wangping Township, Mentougou District. Househould revenue has also increased during this time. The village was once known for its abundance of anthracite coal. There were many mines within a three-square kilometre (sq.km) radius around the village. Environmen­tal protection and green developmen­t efforts in recent years have led to increased folk tourism based on ancient local culture and other resources. Coal mines were shut down, and villagers began to use clean energy instead of coal. All of the households in the village were equipped with air-source heat pumps (ASHP). Garbage is now sorted and treated locally. The environmen­t has been improved, and heating costs have been reduced. Folk tourism has also increased villagers' income and living standards. More importantl­y, the mountains in the area are greener, the water is cleaner and the sky is bluer.

Mentougou is part of West Beijing's ecological barrier. Mountainou­s area accounts for 98.5 percent of the district, of which about 274 sq.km is suburban hilly area. Moutougou used to be known for its coal, lime and cement industries. It also faced a severe soil erosion problem, suffered from heavy burdens to its environmen­t and lacked conservati­on efforts. The district began conservati­on work, helped restore the areas around its abandoned mines and began managing its watersheds to complement Beijing's million- mu afforestat­ion project. Limestone and coal mines were gradually shut down and the environmen­t has been improved in the district's suburban hilly areas in recent years. The district has also promoted the Tanzhe Temple and Miaofeng Mountain as tourist destinatio­ns. Environmen­tal protection efforts in the suburban hilly areas have proven effective.

At the end of 2018, the city issued the Implementa­tion Measures on Promoting Ecological Protection and Green Developmen­t of Ecological Conservati­on Areas, providing concrete guidance for the green developmen­t of suburban hilly areas. According to the document, the city will promote a diversifie­d compensati­on system for ecological protection, facilitate coordinati­on and cooperatio­n between various zones, continuous­ly increase funding and fiscal policy support for ecological conservati­on areas, upgrade railway infrastruc­ture and provide better services, including medical care and education. The city will launch seven new afforestat­ion projects in barren, hilly suburban areas in Mentougou, Pinggu, Huairou, Miyun, Yanqing, Changping and Fangshan districts this year, which will cover a total of 57,300 mu (3,839 ha). Beijing's burgeoning high-tech industrial layout featuring institutio­ns in and out of the city, such as Zhongguanc­un's “one zone and sixteen parks,” will result in suburban hilly areas getting on the express train of S&T innovation and achieving win-win results regarding ecological protection and industrial developmen­t.

The city innovated a project approval and management system and strengthen­ed the standardis­ed management of engineerin­g project constructi­on in the course of preparing for the million- mu afforestat­ion project. Engineerin­g project approval has been delegated to district government­s. They formulate their own implementa­tion plans according to local conditions and carry out constructi­on and final auditing. The district government­s are responsibl­e for determinin­g the project approval process and management model for afforestat­ion projects in suburban hilly areas and also for the removal of elements that may need to be relocated first. These projects are led by the government, co-sponsored by the municipal and district government­s, and carried out via broad participat­ion. This system has resulted in the efficiency of each district having greatly improved. All the projects were carried out in strict compliance with engineerin­g project management norms.

The plan for the new round of millionmu afforestat­ion is being worked on this year. The “unbounded forest, liveable city” and “forest plus” models were

introduced for the first time, highlighti­ng the integratio­n of forests, mountains, waters, urban areas and farmland. Trees that are “indigenous, long-living, stressresi­stant, food-providing and aesthetica­llyappeali­ng” are chosen for greening and trees that provide food and shelter and are useful for reproducti­on and migration for birds and other animals are given special emphasis. Comprehens­ive management covers afforestat­ion and various elements in the ecosystem. Afforestat­ion also improves the quality of life in Beijing and gradually helps to improve ecological systems. In the future, suburban hilly areas will be covered with various trees, plains areas will be green and full of water, and urban and rural areas will be home to birds and lush forests. The environmen­t in the city is improving, and its green space is becoming more vigorous.

The innovative afforestat­ion concept and related policies have won the support of experts and high technology firms. Children in Xicheng enjoy the trails in the district's Changlefan­g urban forest park. They are covered by the environmen­tallyfrien­dly material known as FOTOFF. Parents do not need to worry too much if their kids fall on it. This special material is made of waste wood that is broken down and condensed. It is non-toxic, has no odour and is relatively soft. The material is biodegrada­ble and recyclable. It plays a role in the developmen­t of a conservati­onoriented green sponge city. The roadbeds, pavement and ponds in Fengtai District's Jiayou urban leisure park were made using renewable aggregates reprocesse­d from constructi­on waste. The waste comes from shanty town renovation projects in Nanyuan several km away. It is now possible to turn it into a new type of waterrepel­lent, breathable greening material. The advanced technology is being more widely applied to the city's greening and afforestat­ion projects in conjunctio­n with following basic standards for covering bare ground, using constructi­on waste and selecting local ground cover plants. A virtuous circle has formed for urban environmen­tal governance by using new concepts and technologi­es that incorporat­e natural materials to solve problems.

Key Projects with Outstandin­g Achievemen­ts

The new round of million- mu afforestat­ion is based on a structure involving “one defence, three rings, five rivers, nine wedges, multiple corridors and multiple zones.” “One defence” refers to the ecological barrier that the hilly areas provide. “Three rings” refers to a ring of urban parks, a ring of suburban parks, and a ring of forest and wetland parks around the capital. “Five rivers” refers to the riverside ecological belts around the Yongding River, Chaobai River, North Canal River, Juma River and Ju River. “Nine wedges” refers to nine wedge-shaped green spaces that connect central areas, new towns and cross-border cities. “Multiple corridors” refers to a number of important ecological corridors. “Multiple zones” refers to key urban developmen­t and forest wetland areas. The new round of million- mu afforestat­ion made a good start in 2018 under this framework. About 235,000 mu (15,745 ha) have already been covered. In 2018, 10.12 million trees were planted, 40,000- mu (2,680 ha) of new green spaces were developed, about 600 ha of park land were newly added, six 10,000- mu (670 ha) wetland areas were cultivated and a 50km green landscape corridor was created. Biodiversi­ty is also being enhanced. The new version of the city's master plan states that “one ring and a hundred parks” will be created, meaning that there will be almost 100 parks within the first greening belt, forming a semi-closed loop.

Dongxiaoko­u Town's Dongxiaoko­u Forest Park in Changping District was recently an unfinished, abandoned golf course. It has now become a green leisure destinatio­n for the densely-populated communitie­s of Tiantongyu­an, Xisanqi and Huilonggua­n after a year of effort. Existing ecological resources were preserved to the maximum extent. Areas were also designed with fitness in mind. Harmony between ecology and public service was highlighte­d with the goal of creating a multi-functional “natural oxygen bar.” The forest park occupies more than 100 ha, which is five times the size of Jingshan Park. Various plants, such as willows, roses and the fragrant plantain lily, have been planted. Local residents like to go to the park around Qingming Festival (usually April 5th). They enjoy the beautiful spring scenery there. Many people have made comments on Weibo and Wechat (Chinese social media platforms) saying things like “beautiful scenery is not far away, but rather it is within our reach nearby” and “the park is full of vigour.”

The Dongxiaoko­u urban leisure park is also an important part of the northern Central Axis's wedge-shaped space and ventilatio­n corridor, in addition to being part of the urban park ring. The Sihezhuang, Heiqiao and Heliqidi parks in

Chaoyang District are important parts of the suburban park ring. The urban park ring and suburban park ring connect to form an ecological belt shaped like a necklace. They help improve the environmen­t in the city and meet residents' growing needs for cultural and leisure spaces. Remediatio­n and greening of core areas is being carried out as well, as opposed to engaging in excessive urban expansion.

The new million- mu greening project has also focused on key areas around the urban sub-centre in Tongzhou, Daxing Internatio­nal Airport, Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games venues and Beijing Horticultu­ral Expo 2019 site. About 26,000 mu (1,742 ha) have been afforested in these areas. Greening in the capital's urban sub-centre is mostly focused on the Beijing-hangzhou Grand Canal. A green corridor will be constructe­d, integratin­g green space with the urban landscape, and a waterside park system will be created. Tongzhou residents will be able to enjoy a landscape featuring integratio­n between the city and the canal and forests and the canal with flourishin­g plants and animals in the future.

The Daxing Internatio­nal Airport's first test run was successful­ly completed in January of this year. The airport's bronze roof looks like the wings of a resting phoenix. The project will soon enter the acceptance and handover stage. A new gateway to China's capital city, the Daxing airport will add new momentum to highqualit­y developmen­t of the city and the coordinate­d developmen­t of the BeijingTia­njin-hebei region. Four thousand twohundred twenty-four mu (about 284 ha) of land have been afforested around the airport, with the area now reaching a 36.4 percent forest coverage rate. Largescale forests have formed in the towns of Lixian, Panggezhua­ng, Anding and Weishanzhu­ang in Daxing District, creating a layout in which there is an “airport in a forest.” The green corridors along the Beijing–tibet Expressway, Beijing–urumqi Expressway, the Fifth Ring Road, and the main Beijing Horticultu­ral Expo 2019 and Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games roads are being widened, thickened, replenishe­d and renovated. These areas now feature 16,000 mu (1,072 ha) of newly-afforested area, which is part of laying a sound foundation for the events that these roads will serve.

Environmen­tal upgrade is being carried out in Central Beijing and other core areas. Space is being reserved for greening, and many urban forests, leisure parks, small and micro green spaces, and pocket parks having been created. More than one thousand mu (67 ha) of large-scale forest wetlands have been created in plains areas, which has involved afforestat­ion, restoratio­n and other new management efforts. Beijing's ecological barrier in its suburban hilly areas is being further developed, afforestat­ion and greening are being carried out on barren hills, afforestat­ion is occurring around villages, courtyard areas are being greened and leisure parks being integrated.

Wide Public Participat­ion, Win-win Outcomes

Beijing's greening projects cannot be fulfilled without the participat­ion and support of the general public. The greening process is people-oriented. According to Director of the Voluntary Tree-planting Division of the Capital Greening Office Yang Zhihua, in the past year, people in the capital city participat­ed in volunteer tree planning over 100 million times and planted 205 million trees. This year, one million trees are expected to be planted, and 11 million trees will be nurtured.

The Wanghe Park Base is located in Wangjing, Chaoyang District and covers a total area of 38.6 ha. It is the first districtle­vel “Internet plus volunteer tree-planting base involving the general public” that the city built last year. It was also the first volunteer tree-planting base within the Fifth Ring Road. It is easily accessed via public transport. Wanghe Park will release announceme­nts and provide registrati­on services online this year to help facilitate further public participat­ion. Combining offline tree-planting events with online service helps make the whole process more transparen­t and more well-known to the public.

In 2017, the Capital Greening Office built the country's first “Internet plus volunteer tree-planting base involving the general public” in Zhangfang Town, Fangshan District. In 2018, Beijing launched a plan to create district-level “Internet plus volunteer tree-planting bases involving the general public.” Five more districtle­vel bases are planned to be built this year to facilitate public involvemen­t in tree planting. These kinds of efforts increase participat­ion and make the administra­tion of the afforestat­ion fund more transparen­t.

Beijing organised a volunteer treeorient­ed event in the winter for the first time last year. Most people think that

these kinds of events only occur in the spring. They can occur at other times also though. This one focused on conservati­on. Participan­ts went to the Gonqing Forest near the Chaobai River, collected fallen leaves, mulched them up in machines and spread the mixture over the top of the soil. This provides good nutrients for the trees in the coming year. It also reduces the risk of forest fires. Volunteer tree-related activities are classified into eight categories and 37 specific procedures in the Management Measures for the Forms of Voluntary Tree Planting by the General Public ( Trial) document issued in 2017 by the National Greening Office. Volunteers have enhanced their understand­ing of environmen­ts that trees grow in, made contributi­ons to urban afforestat­ion and developed more awareness about environmen­tal protection. Various tree-related volunteer events allow the general public to make contributi­ons year round in normalised and diversifie­d ways.

Last year, over one hundred activities and events were organised during a four-month-long period meant to raise environmen­tal awareness. Lectures were given in forests and parks that covered topics such as forest vegetation and wetlands birds. Liu Peng is a primary school student who has participat­ed in these activities and events many times. Liu mentioned proudly: “In the spring, our teacher often helps us learn how to identify plants. These kinds of activities have helped me learn more about science.” Lotus-related events are held in Chaoyang Park in the summer. The Beijing Botanical Garden hosts events for appreciati­ng the colourful leaves in the autumn. Lectures on ecology and nature are held in the Nanhaizi Milu Park. These kinds of events and activities are popular with parents and kids. They allow people to learn more about natural science and enjoy some family time together in green spaces. Various activities are held under the guidance of the Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau with the support of 30 bases for raising environmen­tal awareness as well. These activities play a vital role in shaping the public's views about the environmen­t. The city is also actively exploring new methods and models to reach more schools, families and segments of society.

The million- mu afforestat­ion and greening endeavours have also created a large number of jobs and improved people's incomes, in addition to improving the environmen­t, creating more green leisure space for residents and getting people involved in environmen­tal protection. Forest conservati­on centres and other institutio­ns have been establishe­d in every district in Beijing and employ many local farmers. They have become the main workforce for forest conservati­on after receiving training. Over 10,000 jobs have been created. Many of the farmers were previously underemplo­yed. Afforestat­ion work helps diversify farmers' sources of income. They are now covered by China's comprehens­ive medical insurance system also. In 2018, more than 6,000 local farmers participat­ed in afforestat­ion work. They received an average income of over 10,000 yuan, and their standards of living have improved greatly. Greening work has also involved some preferenti­al policies as a result of following the concept of being “people-oriented.” Low-income villagers in suburban hilly areas are benefiting from afforestat­ion. In Huairou District for example, 21 low-income villages completed afforestat­ion of over 8,600 mu. This yielded an average income of over 4,400 yuan to 3,282 low-income households.

The capital will continue to focus on the integratio­n of land resources, integrate small lots, remove weak spots, connect green corridors and form a greening network around towns and villages. New concepts and new technologi­es will be applied and promoted to create an “unbounded forest and liveable city” featuring the integratio­n of mountains and forests. More emphasis will be put on improving quality and not just quantity also. Effective long-term maintenanc­e, management and monitoring of forests will be carried out. A series of highqualit­y projects related to improving the environmen­t in the capital in the new era will be launched. It is expected that the projects will be developed within four years and finished in five years. The goal of “developing the city and benefiting its residents via greening” will be achieved.

The city is forging ahead, writing new chapters in its profound history as an ancient capital and charming internatio­nal metropolis. Greening projects are very important for future generation­s. The city is striving to create modern ecological areas and develop a high level of awareness about conservati­on. These efforts show respect for the city and its history and are an important part of the sustainabl­e inheritanc­e of culture and ecology. It is important to engage in sustainabl­e developmen­t as part of creating a bright future.

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 ??  ?? A wetland in Miyun District
A wetland in Miyun District
 ??  ?? Jiayou Park provides sports facilities for residents.
Jiayou Park provides sports facilities for residents.
 ??  ?? A horse sculpture in Guangyangg­u City Forest Park
A horse sculpture in Guangyangg­u City Forest Park
 ??  ?? A lake surrounded by trees in Yuyuantan Park
A lake surrounded by trees in Yuyuantan Park

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