Home / English Column / Environment / Environment -- Ecological China Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Root of the Problem: Form over Function
Adjust font size:

As the sun scorches the ground at the height of summer, the solution for many cyclists and pedestrians is to take shelter in the cool shadows of trees that line pavements and roads.


But in many cities, as streets are widened and old trees replaced by young saplings, such shade is becoming increasingly hard to find.


"What people need is not only green trees but also real areas of foliage overhead to block out the sunshine," said a resident in Haikou, capital of Hainan Province.


It highlights what some experts describe as a growing trend of the practical functions of city greenery being overlooked in favor of aesthetics.


In the past five years, Hainan has actually increased its greenbelt by 1,047 hectares, and the public greenbelt per capita has reached 8.3 square meters. However, the creation of more greenery has not pleased everyone in the city, as much of it is made up of tropical species, which lack foliage.


Some have criticized the fact that the greenbelt in the city seems to be distributed unevenly, with the downtown having fewer trees than suburban areas.


Haikou is not an isolated case. Because of road widening, many cities have lost their large old trees.


Tan Tan, a 21-year-old Beijing resident, said: "When I was in primary school, there were many trees along the road, but they were all cut down when the road was widened. Now, new trees have been planted, but it'll take them a long time to provide canopies of shade."


Qi Guoli, who lives on Ping'an Avenue in Beijing, said there used to be many varieties of trees along the street, but now most have gone.


According to experts, a given area of trees can produce 100 times more oxygen than similar-sized grassland, and can lead to much better air quality.


Wang Qi, a student at the city's Capital Normal University who rides a bicycle from home to classes, said: "Sometimes there are shadows on the side of big roads, not from the trees but the buildings. The young trees are not big enough to provide foliage and shade for the bicycle lanes."


Zhou Wenzhang, a publicity official with Hainan, admitted there had been some "incorrect concepts" in landscaping urban centers. Some planners feel that an urban landscape is something only for the eyes.


Failure to consider local conditions when designing urban green spaces is often the result of blindly following textbooks. Some cities spend vast amounts of cash on importing expensive tree species, only to find they wither and die.


Then there is the problem of corruption, where some officials use landscaping funds to line their own pockets or spend money on "white elephants." "A city's greenery projects should combine local practices and take into account natural conditions. It is a real pity that big trees have been cut down," Qiu Baoxing, vice-minister of the Ministry of Construction, said recently.


"One northern city spent tens of thousands of yuan to import southern species, and later found not a single tree had survived because of the change in environment."


Wang Hao, a professor at Nanjing Forestry University, said there were different types of urban landscaping. Practical needs were more important than aesthetic values. He added that many planners often did not consider the bigger picture. One park in the city, for example, was used to create a large area of artificial lakes, but left limited space for people to sit down and relax.


(China Daily August 18, 2006)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read

Related Stories
Shanghai to Increase Greenbelts
Chinese Cities Turning Greener
China Afforests 3.79 Mln Hectares of Land
Roof Greenery to Be Expanded
More Trees for the Capital
SiteMap | About Us | RSS | Newsletter | Feedback
Copyright © China.org.cn. All Rights Reserved     E-mail: webmaster@china.org.cn Tel: 86-10-88828000 京ICP证 040089号