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Cover Stories
Special> The 9th China International Garden Expo> Cover Stories
UPDATED: June 8, 2013 NO. 24 JUNE 13, 2013
Land Rehab
Beijing Garden Expo presents a combination of traditional beauty and enlightened urban development
By Bai Shi

The Beijing Garden reflects the majesty and grand atmosphere of the imperial capital in dynastic times. Located at the edge of the Splendid Valley, a two-storey edifice accentuates the display in royal colors reminiscent of the Forbidden City and Summer Palace.

Jiangsu Province is home to the famed gardens of Suzhou, often described as a paradise on Earth for its unparalleled beauty and magnificent architecture. Distinct from the grand royal gardens in north China, Suzhou's were private property, embodying the unique characteristics and aesthetic needs of their owners.

One exhibit transcends gardening in quite a different way: The Chengdu Garden features two giant pandas visiting from Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Young pandas Qiqi and Zhizhi were both born in 2009.

Panda breeder Zhang Hao, 28, told Beijing Review, "Pandas are beloved for their cute and peaceful nature. We carried two pandas from remote Chengdu to Beijing, expecting to show the most charming creature from Sichuan and promote the idea of animal protection through the expo."

These two pandas have lived at their new home in the expo for almost half a month.

"Visitors are always excited when they see pandas. In order to avoid overstimulating [the pandas], we have to limit daily visitors," he said.

Giant pandas are endangered wildlife. In recent years, Chinese scientists have made progress in artificial breeding of pandas. "Our ultimate goal is to return all pandas to the natural world and sustain their population in the wild," Zhang said.

In addition to panda-related information, the Chengdu Garden displays other pictures and knowledge of rare animals and plants in Sichuan Province, aiming to enlighten people to the path of ecological conservation, Zhang added.

Three landmarks feature prominently in the overall layout of the park: the Museum of Chinese Gardens, Main Pavilion and Yongding Pagoda.

The museum is the country's first national-level of gardening. According to organizers, it has collected 4,000 items through donations, auctions and purchases, aiming at the stewardship of traditional Chinese culture and research of innovations in modern gardening and park management.

"Tourists can get a general and in-depth understanding of Chinese classical gardens, modern gardens and afforestation skills," Qiang said.

The Main Pavilion resembles a China rose when it is viewed from above. It is the main venue for holding meetings, seminars and other events during the expo.

The Yongding Pagoda is the tallest landmark, a modern replica of traditional wooden tower architecture with a spectacular view from the top.

Green highlights

Landscaping is a voracious consumer of water resources. To sustain the vast garden expo complex, organizers racked their brains to design eco-friendly water supply and irrigation systems.

"From the very beginning, the expo is designed to be sustainable and eco-friendly," Qiang said.

According to Qiang, the garden expo adopts many new material and ecological technologies to save energy and water resources and reduce carbon emissions, such as solar-powered street lamps and wind turbine generator system as well as a water recycling system.

"The expo mainly relies on 120 million cubic meters of reclaimed water supplied by two treatment plants," said hydraulic engineer Liu Xueyuan of the Beijing Institute of Water Planning and Design (BIWPD), regarding the park's yearly water consumption. Runoff contributes another 2 million cubic meters for irrigation, and the Guanting Reservoir in north Beijing can supply another 10 million or 30 million cubic meters for back up.

Guanting Reservoir and the Yongding River no longer supply drinking water to the capital, as there are many pollutants in the source, but efforts are being made to meet standards for irrigation purposes.

"If we use machines to process and purify the water, the cost is too high," Liu said.

Engineers designed an artificial wetland to process water for the expo.

"Hydrogen nitride and nitrogen are the primary pollutants. We planted a lot of aquatic plants and laid eco-friendly filter materials at the bottom of the Yuanbo Lake," said Wei Wei, a water recycling engineer of the BIWPD.

"The technology that we use to create the wetland is the same used to build the artificial lake in Beijing Olympic Park built in 2008. This eco-technology has been proven sustainable over the past five years," Wei said.

Wei said that an "intelligent irrigation control center" conserves water consumed by the expo park.

"I come here to visit the Beijing Garden Expo because its eco-technology appeals to me," said Liu Bin, a student at Beijing Forestry University.

A gardener at the expo explained to him that the lawns and flower gardens are installed with shower nozzles. The irrigation system is integrated within an automatic control center which collects real-time weather, temperature and humidity data and coordinates efficient irrigation throughout the park.

Qiang cited estimates by environmental experts that vegetation at the garden expo could absorb 100,000 tons of smog particles, and 246 hectares of artificial wetland can process 80,000 cubic meters of recycled water a day.

Altogether, water management and park maintenance not only show potential to improve water quality, but also block winds to reduce dust particles in the air and diminish the dramatic temperature difference between day and night in the arid climate.

Some of the themed gardens also exhibit green technology. Wuhan Garden, for example, focuses on carbon emission reduction and sustainable architecture. The roof of its pavilion is covered with grass, reducing the indoor temperature in summer. The moat is equipped with an energy-saving water recycling system.

In the Taiwan Garden, volunteers distribute reusable water bottles to visitors. Lee Ying-ying, a volunteer from National Quemoy University of Kinmen Island, said, "Unlike other disposable beverage bottles, our plastic bottles can be reused many times."

"Visitors consume a large quantity of bottled water every day during the expo and end up disposing of numerous bottles. In order to reduce the environmental burden, we suggest visitors use bottles made from other materials or reusable plastic bottles like ours," Li said.

Email us at: baishi@bjreview.com

Garden Expo in the Numbers

Beijing Garden Expo covers an area of 513 hectares in total, including the 246-hectare Yuanbo Lake and a land area of 267 hectares.

128 themed garden exhibits

200 million yuan ($32 million) of investment in 46 gardens built by Chinese cities

69 Chinese cities and 37 overseas cities from 29 other countries around the world showcase their gardens at the expo

13,000 volunteers serving the expo, selected from over 50,000 applicants

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