Beijing's 'green lung' gives capital breathing space

By XIN WEN | China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-20 06:52
Runners find the park an ideal place to exercise. WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY

Ecological effect

Covering 608 hectares, the park is home to 208 different wild animal species, including the yellow-bellied weasel and hedgehogs, along with numerous types of birds. Tourists visit the venue throughout the year.

According to the Olympic Park Management Committee, protecting the ecosystem is the top priority, and the park is designed to act as Beijing's "green lung"-an area for leisure and entertainment that meets the increasing demand from local residents for green space.

When the park was completed in June 2008, the proportion of forest area in Beijing rose to 67 percent and carbon sequestration-a process by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and held in solid or liquid form-reached 4,763 metric tons per year. The park releases 5,208 tons of oxygen annually, according to the management committee.

As dusk falls at the park, young men play basketball on outdoor courts, retirees dance in large groups and families use the walkways to exercise. Lovers often sit along the trails, listening to guitar players.

Since 2014, Zhang Yu, 40, an illustrator at a nature and geographical magazine in Beijing for young readers, has spent more than 100 nights in the park during summer and autumn, searching with a flashlight for signs of hedgehogs.

He even considered bringing a tent to the park late at night to ensure he had sufficient time to track the creatures.

According to Zhang, untended land in the park provides the perfect habitat for hedgehogs, and they usually rest and sleep on the edges of grassy areas.

Wang Zhou, 60, from Beijing, who has been a keen bird watcher since 1996, said, "We are lucky to have Olympic Forest Park as one of the areas to observe birds' behavior."

Wang, who worked in finance before retiring, said she used to watch birds to ease the pressure of work.

"Every time I saw the birds, especially some new species that suddenly appeared, I felt a sense of satisfaction and my spirits quickly rose," she said.

Wang has also watched birds at other parks in Beijing, such as the Old Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven.

"Compared with other places, Olympic Forest Park has bushy shrubs and untrimmed plants, providing a better environment for wildlife," she said.

Wang said that when it opened to the public in 2008, the park had relatively few species of birds, as the natural landscape had not been "recognized" by migratory species and they rarely visited the site to rest and nest.

However, with the growth of plants and the expansion of the park, the environment, including grasslands, hills and forests, gradually became richer, and the park turned out to be an ideal habitat for birds.

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