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The evolution of Greenways in China

2010-02-23 author:Kongjian Yu, Dihua Li, Nuyu Li
Greenways are considered to be "corridors of various widths, linked together in a network in much the same way as our networks of highways and railroads have been linked" (Fabos, 1995).

1. Introduction

Greenways are considered to be "corridors of various widths, linked together in a network in much the same way as our networks of highways and railroads have been linked" (Fabos, 1995). In terms of their function, Fabos classified Greenways mainly into three categories: ecological Greenways, recreational Greenways and historical heritage corridors (Fabos, 1995), each of which can be clearly recognized in the development of Greenways in the US (Zube, 1995). While Greenway corridors were mainly considered as natural and pre-existent (Fabos, 1995), they can also be completely man-made as seen, for example, in urban boulevards (Walmsley, 1995). While the majority of Greenway concepts and related publications are based on western, especially Northern American experience (see Smith and Hellmund, 1993; Fabos and Ahern, 1995; Ahern, 2002), the history of Greenways in China may provide a further and broader understanding of this concept, even as the Greenway concept originating from the American experience may enlighten the potential and direction of Greenway development in China.

It is assumed that sp;of the riparian Greenways for the sake of flood control, urban construction and "city beautiful" campaign (it was taken before channellizing), Kongjian Yu.

Fig. 6. Recent destruction of the riparian Greenways for the sake of flood control, urban construction and "city beautiful" campaign (it was taken when it was channellized), Kongjian Yu.

2.1. The tradition

Though a systematic approach to river and riparian Greenway construction in China started very recently, the tradition of protecting and planting trees along river and water channel banks dates back for thousands of years. In the Zhou Dynasty (1100-770b.c.), it was a law that trees be planted along moats outside each city’s wall (The Rituals of Zhou Dynasty), and designated officials were assigned to plant and manage moat Greenways. This law also applied to water channels in the countryside. The rituals initiated during the Zhou Dynasty, like other urban construction rituals, were well adhered to in later dynasties. As early as the Spring and Autumn Periods (770-476b.c.), a famous thinker named Guan Zhi described in his works that shrub plantings along river banks consolidated soil and prevented flood damage.

During the time of the Shui Dynasty (581-618a.d.), thousands of willows were planted along the Great Canal that linked Beijing to Hangzhou, a length of more than 1780 kilometers. During the years intervening 907a.d. and 978a.d., a great Greenway project was realized by the Wu Yue Kingdom in Hangzhou, where mor26nbsp;the YellowRiver. More specifically, the minimum numbers of trees planted were required according to the ranks of government individuals. This ranking was broken into five categories, and the highest ranked officials were required to plant a minimum of fifty trees, while officials of lower rank had to plant forty, etc. Citizens were also always encouraged to plant more trees (The Collection of Orders of Song Dynasty).

This 1000 year tradition of planting trees along rivers has lasted until this century, from Dr. SunYatsun, the first president of the Republic of China, to Chairman Mao Zhedong of the Communist China, and more recently Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zeming. Top national leaders have always paid substantial attention to flood control and the construction of Greenways along the rivers (Xiong, 1989, p. 83-84; Forestry Department, 1999).

2.2. The drainage Greenway systems

In the 1980s, the state government recognized again the importance of major drainage Greenway systems in the protection of national lands from the threat of flood and soil erosion (Figs. 1 and 2). Five major drainage Greenway projects were officially initiated by the central government. These drainage Greenway systems, evolving from river and water channel Greenway systems, play a critical role in the construction of Greenway networks at the national scale.

2.2.1. The mid- and -upper reach Yangtze river Greenway project

The Yangtze River is the longest river in China, 6300 kilometers long. Its watershed area covers 18% of China with an area of 1.8 million square meters. One third of the nation’s sp;constructing a Greenway. It planned for 20 million hectares of forest to be grown in 30-40 years. This plan is to be realized in two phases, one before 2000 and one after 2000. When this plan is realized, a network of Greenways will be constructed along the mid and upper reaches of the Yangtze River drainage area. The project began in 1989 and focused on ten critical areas, which were mainly along river stems and mountain areas. By the end of 2000, it was reported to be a great success with more than 7.4 million hectares of forests reportedly planted covering 20 to 29% of the target land area. The frequency of floods and soil erosion decreased significantly (Forestry Department, 1999).

2.2.2. The Huihe river Drainage Greenway system

The Huihe River Drainage System covers 13% of arable land in China, supports 1 eighth of it’s population, and has been frequently flooded throughout history. In 1992, the Forestry Ministry proposed a master plan for the construction of a Greenway system for the whole drainage area, which covers 264,000 square kilometers and accounts for 2.75% of national land. For this 10 year program about one million hectares of forest will be planted. Ten critical projects were also supported in this plan along river stems and mountain ranges suffering from severe soil erosion. This program was put into action in 1995. By the year of 2000, 300,000 hectares of trees had been grown and it was reported to be effectively mitigating the threat of floods and soil erosion in the region (Forestry Department, 1999).

2.2.3. The Mid Reach Yellow River Drainage Greenway System

As the second longest river in China, 5464 kilometers in length and covering an area of 750,000 square kilometers, the Yellow River is considered to be the mother river of China. Its floods and erosion define Chinese history. 78% of the total watershed area suffers from severe soil erosion with an annual loss of 1.6 billion tons of soil. In 1995, the State Council approved the plan for the construction of Greenways along the mid section of the Yellow River. This program covered an area of 320,000 square kilometers and included 26 tributaries along the Yellow River. According to this plan, 3.15 million hectares of trees were to be grown in 15 years from 1995 to 2010. Upon its realization, forest coverage in the watershed will increase from 15 to 25%, and the total area suffering from soil erosion will decrease by 12%. It has been reported that by 2000, 320,000 hectares of trees had been grown, and positive effects in the reduction of soil erosion had been observed (Zhang, 1997; Forestry Ministry, Unpublished Source, 1993, 2000).

2.2.4. The Liao He river drainage Greenway system

The Liu He River, one of the world’s seven largest rivers, is in northeast China. Its drainage covers an area of 235,700square kilometers. Because of the unwise cutting of forests along the river, once high quality lands are now suffering from severe soil erosion. In 1995, the State Council approved the master plan for the construction of a Greenway system along the Liao He River. In 10 years (1995-2005), 1.2 sp;Japanese army in 1937 (See Xiong, 1989, p. 210).

3.3. The National Green Corridor Program: the modern Greenway campaign

In August 1997, after floods, soil erosion, drought and sand storms had increased at alarming rates, the former president Jiang Zeming called for "the rebuilding of beautiful mountains and rivers". In response to this call, the National Green Committee, the Forestry Min istry, the Transportation Ministry and the Railway Ministry jointly announced a call for constructing "green corridors" at a national scale. This was perhaps the largest call ever in the history of Greenway construction in terms of its scale and influence throughout the world. This announcement was also an order to related administration departments, officials and even the army in individual provinces and counties that Greenways were to be built along roads, railways, rivers and streams. It stated that, "the greening of road, railway, river and stream networks is critical in promoting the process of making the landscape beautiful". A nation wide campaign was launched.

In 2000, the State Council delivered "a further call for the construction of green corridors at the national scale" to all provinces and departments of the country. The State Council declared that, "the construction of green corridors is an important strategy for greening the nation," and that, "its main task was greening and beautification along roads, railways, river banks and dams". The goal for the nation was that 60% of existing national and provincial highways, railways, river banks and dams be green by the&3Bthat covered the North, Northeast, and Northwest of China. In these areas, where most of the deserts of China are located, 1.49 million hectares are suffering from desertification. The size of the area suffering from desertification is greater than the total area of arable land in China. Soil erosion in these areas was also a serious problem; 554,000 hectares suffer from soil erosion. This great Greenway was expected to be a cure to the sickness of this disaster-prone region.

This so called "green great wall" is 4,480 kilometers in length from east to west, 560-1460 kilometers in width, covers 551 counties in 13 provinces. Theses counties all together contain an area of 4 million

square kilometers, and accounts for 42.4% of China. This project, planned in three stages and eight phases, started in 1978 and will end in 2050. In the first phase (1978-1985), 21.7 million hectares of trees were planted. In the second phase (1986-1995), 18 million hectares of trees were planted. In the third phase (1996-2000), 4 million trees were planted. In the coming 50 years and five phases, millions of trees will be planted and grown. At the conclusion of the whole program, forested lands should be increased from 1978s 23.14 million hectares to 58.74 million hectares, and forest coverage should be increased from 5% to 15% of total land area in this Three North area (Li, 1993; Gao, 1997; Zhang, 1997; Chu and Zhang, 1998; Zhao et al., 2000).

This great Greenway project is planned not only for ecological reasons, but also for economic and social reasons. Wood and 3Bdramatically. By the year 2003, about 37% of the population became urban residents, and this number will rise up to 65-70% in the next 15-20 years. This dramatic change in society will demand a functional shift for the Greenways. Recreational uses will become a major concern for Greenway planning in China, followed by the concerns for cultural heritage and native habitat protection. As commented by Seans (1995), the evolution of Greenways is an adaptive urban landscape that helps mitigate and provides counterpoint to the loss of natural landscape as a result of urbanization. It is expected that the Greenway concept in China will continue to evolve from the protective functions dominated by individual projects to a national Greenway system integrated with ecological functions, recreational uses and historical heritage protection.

(3) The role of science: the Greenway planning and implementation in China has been decisionoriented, more than science based. The role of the Chinese scientific community in making decisions is limited. The sizes and locations of the Greenways are more arbitrary than based upon scientifically based analysis. The arbitrary approach is obvious in the recent national campaign for green corridor construction mentioned in Chapter 2.3 of this paper. Additionally, the greenbelt approach to city planning in Asian mega cities, has not realized significant success (Yokohari et al., 2000). Beijing is in a similar situation. In future Greenway planning and implementation, ecological sciences, especially landscape ecological studies shall play an important role in Greenways planning, as is the case in many other areas in the world.

(4) Misconceptions %

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