Season's first snowfall hits Beijing hard
( 2003-11-10 22:49) (China Daily)
The blanket of white snow that recently covered Beijing produced countless photo opportunities for delighted residents and visitors, but has continued to be a major headache for the city's gardeners.
They have been kept busy trying to salvage thousands of trees straining under the weight of the snow and removing broken branches.
The snow, accompanied by rare thunder and lightning, fell from Thursday night until the following morning. It also wreaked havoc on about 5,000 plants.
Contrary to traffic police who breathed a collective sigh of relief because the fall did not cause any serious traffic standstills as it did last year, Beijing's tree guardians are still dashing around dealing with the after shock.
More than 1 million trees in urban Beijing were damaged, it has been claimed. The broken branches still litter some streets and even block traffic.
"The problem the snow is causing to the trees is very rare in the city and has been a great challenge for us,'' said Zhang Hui, an official with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Parks.
Zhang said her bureau has dispatched more than 100 teams to the eight districts in the urban area, and more than 30,000 people have participated in the work to clear away the debris.
"Due to the early arrival of snow when the trees were still heavy with their leaves, the fall had a huge impact on them, with some trees even being flattened,'' said Zhang. "Chinese scholartree and willows were the most damaged.''
Some people say the direct economic loss to the city's vegetation is around the 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million) mark, but Zhang said it is almost impossible to estimate the figure given many invaluable, old trees are seriously damaged.
For instance, 90 per cent of the old trees and some more than 600-year-old plants in the Imperial Ancestral Temple, located to the east of the Imperial Palace, have been seriously damaged.
Yang Zhihua, another official with the parks bureau, said the unprecedented impact of the snow will prompt the bureau to take preventative measures in the future.
Branches will be pruned before winter and the bureau will readjust the ratio of evergreen plants and deciduous trees.
Yang said he expects his bureau will have finished the branch cleanup job in the urban area by the end of the week.
"The broken branches will be sent to special depots to be turned into mulch,'' he said.
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