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Beijing Transformation Includes Nature

On April 1, two million people planted 2.2 million trees of different species in Beijing. The Chinese capitol plans to plant 12,000 hectares of trees to increase the green coverage of the urban area to 43 percent in 2007.

The Chinese capitol is going all out for the 2008 Olympic Games, spending close to $40 billion, planting 200 million trees and building dozens of highways and athletic facilities. Landscape architects, contractors and nursery growers are reaping a piece of the action.

At 8:08 p.m., Aug. 8, 2008 in Beijing, the 2008 Olympic Games will commence. All those 8s are no coincidence--it's a lucky number in China.

Beijing, home to 15 million people, is undergoing a huge transformation. The city will spend close to $40 billion on stadia and various infrastructure improvements, e.g., the airport and subway system, about twice what Greece spent for the last Olympics.

However, according to the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, the Chinese government has evicted 1.5 million people to make room for the Olympic-related transformations.

Since Beijing won the Olympic bid in 2002 for the 2008 Olympic Games, it has planted nearly 200 million trees, including a 125 km tree belt around the city. (Note: In 2000, the Chinese government, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Bid Committee and key environmental groups also began an initiative to plant trees and vegetation along the 6,000 kilometer length of the Great Wall.) Earlier this year, blocks of tenements along Beijing's northern Second Ring Road were replaced with a two-kilometer-long green belt of parkland, walkways, small playgrounds, lighting and 25-foot-tall trees. The city will build 30 suburban country parks along the Fourth and Fifth Ring Roads by the end of next year to create a "green necklace."

Beijing is also trying to deal with air pollution and will spend $3 billion alone this year on pollution control. Last year Beijing removed 15,000 old taxis and 3,000 buses from the streets to lower pollution and congestion. In August, Beijing also tested a plan for the Games by taking one million cars off the streets for two weeks. For the Games, there will be 50 electric buses to transport athletes and officials. Olympic venues will also use silicon solar panels.

Because of its chronic water shortages, Beijing has a $61 billion project plan to pipe in water from reservoirs in southern China. Yu Kongjian, a landscape architect and environmentalist, believes China needs more efficient rainwater management, expanded wetlands and smarter farming, not an engineering solution.

Sources: USA Today, press reports

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October 20, 2019, 8:22 pm PDT

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