'Double Reconstruction' to transform Sanya into an ecological city

By Chen Ziqi China Plus Published: 2018-03-13 12:05:16
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Reporter: Yang Yong and Chen Ziqi

Natural scene of Sanya.[Photo: from VCG]

Natural scene of Sanya.[Photo: from VCG]

The city of Sanya in Hainan province has seen unprecedented development over the past decade, growing from a small fishing village to a well-known tourist destination. Yet the rapid growth hasn't had only good results: a lack of proper city planning including illegal building, water pollution and the destruction of the coastal areas have all been some of the more negative results of development. 

In a bid to tackle these issues and stop the unhealthy development of Sanya in its tracks, the local government launched a pilot program of ecological and urban reconstruction in June 2015. 

In June 2015, officials got together to work out how to stem the negative tide, and implemented the ecological and urban reconstruction programme to transform Sanya into being a more liveable city with more green spaces for residents and other improvements.

Ji Jiaji is director of the Bureau of Housing and Urban-rural Development of Sanya. He explains that when the program was designed, many elements of local culture and characteristics were considered to make sure that the residents of Sanya would still feel at home.

"We emphasize the concept of localization. Tropical plants that are symbolic of the city have been considerably cultivated, like mangrove trees, coconut trees and palms. In this way, we believe when our residents walk around in Sanya, they are proud to say this is their hometown, not just any modern city."

[Photo: from VCG]

[Photo: from VCG]

Before the program was initiated, the local government carried out a series of thorough investigations to find out exactly what Sanya is facing. A database was set up to store details and schemes for the planned reconstruction. Gao Zhonggui is vice director of the Sanya Urban Planning Bureau. He explains that the core task of the program is to cope with multiple urban problems and increase the number of green spaces and parks.

"To successfully achieve the expected result, we need to carry out two works in parallel, both the ecological and the urban reconstruction. Different cities have their own individual issues, " Gao Zhonggui said, "What Sanya needs to fix are its mountain ecosystem, river shorelines, coast lines and illegal construction."

Mountains, oceans and rivers are the significant physical components of Sanya's ecosystem. According to Wang Miao, dean of the Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute Group, restoring the ecological system of the two branches of Sanya River is the programme's priority.

Sanya River originates in Haobagang Mountain, to the north of the city. Its course divides into two branches when it flows to downtown Sanya. For many years, local residents have reported their concerns about the bad smell, dead fish and garbage in the river. Wang Miao takes part in Sanya's ecological and urban reconstruction program, and he echoes the urgent need to curb water pollution.

"Water resources are very important, so the first thing we decided to carry out in the program was to clean up Sanya River. We have upgraded the drainage system and banned dumping waste into the river. We also plan to create green lanes along 105 kilometres of both river banks. Nine ecological parks will also be built along the river banks."

Fengxing Park of Sanya.[photo: from China Plus]

Fengxing Park of Sanya.[photo: from China Plus]

Urban reconstruction primarily targets illegal advertising billboards and construction, which means there will be more available space for landscaping. Four ecosystem parks are being built by the Bureau of Housing and Urban-rural Development of Sanya. Fengxing Park is the most important project among them because of its crucial location. 

"Fengxing Park is located at the intersection of the east and west branches of Sanya River, so it is crucial to the local ecosystem. When we designed it, we kept one principle in mind, making it people-oriented, since its function is to serve the local residents. A well-organized impounding reservoir is part of the park. It can restore about 12,000 cubic meters of water. Our task is to keep rain or snow water in this reservoir, instead of letting it flow to other downstream regions. It is beneficial to control flooding."

The local government also plans to build a sky walkway that will connect the coastlines and parks along the river banks. One official figure anticipates more than a billion yuan will be spent on achieving this. Gao Zhonggui is vice president of the Sanya Urban Planning Bureau. He points out that at the initial stage, the program will first focus on improving Sanya River's ecosystem, then the work will gradually shift to other natural components, like mountains, farmland and lakes.

"The main goal of the ecological and urban reconstruction program is to increase the function of the city and improve the livelihood of the residents."

Mangrove resort of Hainan province [photo: from IC]

Mangrove resort of Hainan province [photo: from IC]

Noticeable improvements have been made since the reconstruction of the program was launched three years ago. One success is the recovery of the Mangrove resort, which had degraded so much because of human disturbance that it had practically been destroyed. The Mangrove is one of Hainan province's indigenous plants, as well as a city icon of Sanya. It covers an area of about 670 hectares on the island.

The entire program is expected to be accomplished by the end of 2020, by which time, says Gao Zhonggui, Sanya will be an international ecological city.

"I have faith that we will achieve our goal. Even when the program is finished, we will still have the awareness to maintain Sanya as an ecological city," said Gao Zhonggui.

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