A Beijing forestry official said yesterday the "green" commitments made in 2001 during the city's Olympic bid had been all but fulfilled.
In addition, landscaping work at stadiums across the capital was progressing well.
Speaking on the eve of today's one-year countdown, Qiang Jian, deputy director of the Beijing municipal gardening and forestation bureau, told a news conference that thanks to the combined efforts of the government and public over the past six years, seven of the key targets to turn Beijing into a garden full of trees and flowers had been achieved.
The key targets were to provide: 50 percent green cover in Beijing's municipal areas; 70 percent cover in the mountain region; 40 percent cover downtown; three ecological protection screens around the city; 23,000 hectares of greenbelt in suburban areas; 12,000 hectares of greenbelt in the downtown area; and at least 8 percent cover by natural reserves throughout the city.
"For 2008, the greenery target in the downtown area is 43 percent," Qiang said. "But it is highly possible that we will hit that this year, despite the relatively scarce land resources."
Qiang said forestry authorities wanted to plant trees and grass on "every available patch" of the city. Efforts included turning roofs into gardens, and planting trees in parking lots and along railways.
In addition, landscaping work at five of the city's 31 sporting venues -- the Beijing Shooting Range Hall, Beijing Shooting Range Clay Target Field, Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park, Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground and Fengtai Softball Field -- was also now complete, Qiang said.
Meanwhile, foresters are planting more trees in a bid to reduce the risk of sandstorms next spring.
Cao Qingyao, spokesman for the State Forestry Administration, said: "Sandstorms cannot be eliminated, but we hope to be able to limit them."
(China Daily August 8, 2007)