Beijing to get 30 suburban parks

By Liu Weifeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-12 07:03

Hiking and picnic lovers in Beijing will be excited to learn the city authorities are to build a further 30 suburban country parks by the end of next year.

The plan will increase the total number of free-admission parks to 60, an official with the office of the capital afforestation committee, said yesterday.

The parks will be built along the Fourth and Fifth Ring Roads to create a "green necklace", Liu Lili, a source, said.

"Different from city parks, country parks serve an ecological function by providing local people with fresh air and more outdoor space," Liu said.

The new parks will emphasize the greenness of nature, the Beijing municipal committee for reform and development, which approved the plan said.

Once completed, the ring of parks, none of which will be no more than 3 km apart, will provide extra space for people to hike, have a picnic, fly kites and other outdoor leisure activities, Liu said.

That's good news for 30-year-old outdoor activities fan Anita Huang, 30.

"The more the better," she said, adding that in the past she could go hiking only on Fragrant Hill (Xiangshan).

However, not everyone is as positive about the plan.

MacLean Brodie, 27, a project manger with Beijing ABC Management, said: "Greens and parks are absolutely wonderful additions to any city, but you can't call man-made parks real nature."

The new parks will enclose the existing greenbelt, which comprises some 116 sq km of trees and other plants between the Fourth and Fifth Ring Roads.

The greenbelt acts as a guard for the city against dust, noise and maintaining a thermal balance.

"But, few people could get access to it," Liu said.

The construction of the country parks is intended to solve that problem by bringing people inside, she said.

The 30 new country parks will cover 1,333 hectares. The total area of all 60 parks will be about equal to the size of 14 Summer Palaces.

The concept of country parks originated in Hong Kong in the 1970s, which is home to 23 of them.

(China Daily 07/12/2007 page4)

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