Footpath touches nature gently

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A 19-kilometer-long elevated footpath weaves its way through five mountains in the city of Fuzhou, Fujian province, opening the area to easy public access.

People walk on the 19-kilometer elevated footpath in Fuzhou, Fujian province. [Photo/China Daily]

"Four years ago, few people walked here," said Wang Wenkui, assistant to the head of the Fuzhou Planning and Design Research Institute. "Now the project connects once-inaccessible parts of the city, providing people with an escape from the dense cityscape."

Fuzhou has 56 mountains in its urban area, providing options for people to explore nature.

"The footpath is completely barrier-free, and even physically challenged people can reach the top of the mountains by wheelchair to enjoy a beautiful overview of the city," Wang said.

The city began construction of the footpath at Jinniu Mountain in 2015 and completed it in two years, with a total investment of 600 million yuan ($89 million), according to the city government.

The Jinniu Mountain footpath has 10 major exits and entrances, and there are more than 20 service facilities, including tourist centers and sightseeing platforms along the route.

An innovative construction system minimizes its footprint to retain the natural vegetation and integrate it into the surrounding greenery.

"The footpath uses lightweight steel elements that retreat into the lush background and allow the surrounding nature to take center stage," said Yang Zhen, deputy director of the footpath office of Fuzhou.

Yang said the steel is mostly galvanized with zinc and can go without maintenance for more than 50 years.

Wang said the public infrastructure in Fuzhou includes 15 ecological parks and 168 connected parks along 400 km of riverside paths.

One example is Liuhuaxi Stream, which flows for 4.3 km. Sewage that once spilled into the stream has been stopped and is now treated, and more than 9,000 plants have been placed along its length.

"Before, sewage was discharged from factories around Liuhuaxi into the stream, making the air smelly. But now the environment is enjoyable. I exercise here every day," said a resident surnamed Lu.

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