Speaking earlier this week at a sustainable development forum at Tongji University, the director of city urban planning and land resource administration announced a plan to cover half of Shanghai with green space by 2020 . According to Shanghai Daily, “nature reserves, wetlands, forests and farmland will cover half the city’s 6,787- square-kilometer area.”
The plan seems to be centered around the construction of nine massive “eco-corridors” linking the outer suburbs to the inner city. What exactly these corridors would look like is not clear, but they aim to average 14 to 16 square meters of green space for every Shanghai resident. This would be quite a feat, considering, and as Shanghai Daily keenly observes, “at present much of the city’s land is used for construction projects.”
The not-so-friendly part of the plan includes converting about 260 square kilometers that are “now mainly occupied by industry or residences” into parks or farmland. Forcing evictions in order to plant trees is almost as sad as forcing evictions to make way for childhood dreams.
Wouldn’t it be better to just expand the green roofing program Shanghai already has in place? According to one recent report, the city is already home to 500,000 green roof tops, a number made possible by government subsidies. That’s impressive, until you realize that number’s stayed the same since twoyears ago.
While we’re mostly for the protection of wetland, how useful will it be at combating things like the heat island effect if it’s giant eco-park corridors just outside the city?
At any rate, this announcement is just one of many green initiatives being implemented across China. Earlier this week we watched the Chinese government make good at least once on their promise to reign in (i.e. demolish) inefficient power plants. Coupled with less clearly planned methods to curb power consumption (such as recurrent blackouts to meet efficiency goals) China’s pro-environment push is clearly in full swing.
Let’s just hope we’re headed toward a greener future that doesn’t always include hassling local residents and denying them basic services.
Written by Jessica Colwell