SCIO press conference on progress of green Olympics and sustainability for Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

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The Yanqing competition zone has a special environment and is ecologically sensitive. As such, balancing the relationship between the construction of venues and the natural ecology poses a challenge for sustainable development. How can the Yanqing competition zone protect its ecology while undergoing construction? Likewise, ecological restoration work has been going on in the Yanqing competition zone. What is its current progress? Thank you.

Yu Bo:

You raised a very good question, and this is also a problem that we've been working to solve. The highest elevation within the core area of the Yanqing competition zone for the Winter Olympics is 2,198 meters above sea level while the lowest elevation is more than 300 meters. In the early stage of construction, the core area of the Yanqing competition zone was a mountainous area with no roads, no water, no electricity and no communication facilities. Transportation relied entirely on manpower, mules and horses. It was the most difficult to build among the three major zones of the Beijing Winter Olympics. In order to ensure sustainable development, the Yanqing competition zone has always adhered to the concept of "green Olympics," and the concept that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets throughout the entire process of venue construction. Ecological protection and the construction of the Winter Olympic projects have moved forward together. The construction took six years, however, the core design concept of "venues built among mountains and forest for an ecological Winter Olympics" became a reality from that blueprint.

First, we have completed the ecological restoration of the competition zone with a high standard. We hired an advisory group including 18 experts and professors from Tsinghua University and Beijing Forestry University, which is headed by Qian Yi, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering. The group is divided into three panels: one for vegetation and landscape restoration, one for geological disasters and soil and water conservation, and another for hydrology and water environment. They conducted a baseline survey on flora and fauna resources in the competition zone as well as the 2,000-hectare surrounding area, and supervised and guided the ensuing ecological restoration work in the Yanqing competition zone. At present, the ecological restoration of the 2.16 million square meters of the Yanqing competition zone has been completed. The native trees have settled in their original place, the pristine subalpine meadows have returned, the wildlife corridors have been effectively established and the ecological environment of the competition zone has been wholly restored.

Second, animals and plants are well protected. In terms of plant protection, the venue construction adheres to the principle of "avoidance." We tried our best to protect and preserve the existing native trees on the site, and make way for natural secondary forests in the design of ropeways; in the case that the construction couldn't avoid the native plants, we resorted to near-situ and ex-situ conservation measures. In the competition zone, a total of five in-situ conservation areas were built, and 313 trees were preserved; two near-situ conservation areas were built, and 11,000 shrubs and grasses were transplanted there; an ex-situ conservation base of 300 mu and the Winter Olympic Forest Park covering an area of 480 mu were built, with 24,000 trees transplanted there. The survival rate of the transplanted trees is 90.7%. At the same time, we carried out topsoil stripping across 81,000 cubic meters. After construction was completed, the sites were covered by the original soil and the original appearance has been restored, so as to preserve the seed bank to the greatest extent and reduce the risk of biological invasion. In terms of animal protection, during the construction process, we established or left open wildlife corridors, reduced nighttime construction, installed artificial nests, and restored and rebuilt animal habitats. If we found newborn or injured wild animals, we took care of them in a timely manner. Since 2019, wild animals such as boars, badgers and gorals have been spotted many times around the competition zone, and in 2021, infrared cameras captured more than 14,000 valid photos and videos, monitoring and spotting 11 species of mammals – an increase of one species from 2019 – and 18 species of birds – an increase of six species from 2019. At present, there are 452 species of terrestrial wild animals from 95 families of 30 orders, which are distributed throughout Yanqing district, including 392 species of birds, 38 species of mammals, and 22 species of amphibians and reptiles. The ecological environment continues to improve, becoming the home of various wild animals and plants.

Third, we have promoted green and low-carbon recycling. All venues in the competition zone meet the three-star standard for green buildings. We promoted low-carbon management. For the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, all venues will be powered by green electricity. We promoted green transportation for the venues and more than 200 hydrogen energy buses have been delivered for use and will be put in the transportation service during the Games. We promoted the recycling of water resources so that reclaimed water that meets the standards after treatment can be used for road watering, green irrigation, toilet flushing, etc., which significantly improves the efficiency of water resource use. The Yanqing competition zone fully embodies the concept of "green Winter Olympics" and "low-carbon Winter Olympics."

Thank you.

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