Building Green Spaces Fairly Accessible to All Social Groups - The Practice of Planning Green Spaces in Wuhan
To protect the urban ecological security pattern of Wuhan, increase the per capita park green area for Wuhan people, and ensure the fair accessibility of green spaces, the Wuhan Municipal Government has comprehensively carried out the sustainable green space planning at the macroscopic, mesoscopic, and microscopic levels. Wuhan's green space planning practice mainly covers the overall planning for the green space system, the planning for the scale and distribution of various green spaces, and the sustainable transformation and renewal of various green spaces in the downtown area and urban development zone of Wuhan.
Objective 1: To protect the natural heritage sites in Wuhan, avoid the negative impact of urban development and construction on ecosystems, and enhance Wuhan's resilience and adaptability to extreme weather and natural disasters, especially the ability to cope with the urban waterlogging caused by heavy rains.
Objective 2: To improve the urban microclimate and air quality, and make Wuhan more livable.
Objective 3: To improve the system of urban green space network so that all the residents can have convenient access to the urban green spaces.
Objective 4: To involve the public in the planning, construction, and transformation of green spaces, make sure that vulnerable groups such as women, children, the elderly, and the disabled can have their needs respected and met and safely and conveniently access urban green spaces, enhance the residents' awareness of environmental protection and disseminate the knowledge of sustainable development through public participation.
Project beneficiaries: All the residents and tourists in Wuhan;
Stakeholders: Managers of urban ecological resources, the government's water affairs departments and landscaping departments, and constructors of green space transformation and renewal;
Partners: Relevant departments involved in the government implementation.
1) Planning and management of the ecological bottom line: To protect Wuhan's important natural resources (two rivers, 25 lakes, and 39 mountains), we drew the ecological bottom line at the legislative level to strictly control the construction activities within the ecological bottom line, maintain the water area, improve the water quality of lakes, and prevent natural shorelines, mountains, and vegetation from being damaged by urban construction.
2) Construction of the urban green space system: We started with construction of country parks, ecological corridors, pocket parks, and other projects, and have built a sound, differentiated urban green space system based on the urban ecological patches and corridors, as well as distribution of urban population and functions.
3) Planning of the Yangtze River axis
4) Planning of greenways
5) Transformation and renewal of community parks
1) The urban green space system of Wuhan is basically completed: Wuhan has established a balanced urban green space system, with the Yangtze River, the Hanshui River, and the east and west mountain systems as a cross-shaped ecological frame, large parks, lake parks, and mountain parks as the ecological nodes, canals and greenways as the ecological network. Today, Wuhan has a per capita park green area of 13 square meters and a park service coverage rate of more than 95%, both higher than the national standards. It has achieved the planning goals of “green within every 300 meters, parks within every 500 meters, and water within every 2,000 meters”.
2) The public accessibility of natural heritage sites and natural resources is guaranteed: We have drawn basic ecological control lines throughout the city, including 166 lake protection lines and more than 400 mountain protection lines. We have formulated The Regulations on Management of Basic Ecological Control Lines in Wuhan, which is the first of its kind in the country, to provide legal protection for the management and control of basic ecological control lines.
3) The urban green space has increased significantly: From 2013 to 2017, the park green space in the downtown area of Wuhan increased by 1,305.96 hectares, an average annual growth of 326.49 hectares, and an average annual growth rate of 17.5%. Specifically, in 2014, 2015, and 2016, the park green space increased by 258.39 hectares, 312.27 hectares, and 96.65 hectares respectively. The year 2017 witnessed the largest increase of 638.65 hectares (due to protection and construction of large lake parks such as the Moshui Lake Park and the River Beach Park).
4) The urban air quality has improved: The Wuhan Environmental Status Bulletin 2016 reported 237 days of excellent ambient air quality, an excellent ambient air quality rate of 64.8%. In the first half of 2017, the data released by monitoring points in Wuhan showed about 122 days of excellent ambient air quality, an excellent ambient air quality rate of about 67.4%. Wuhan's overall environmental quality is gradually improving, and the number of days with good environment has significantly increased as compared with 2014.
1) Favorable factors: The close attention of the government, active efforts of the involved departments, and strong support of the residents.
2) Restraining factors: The projects are many, involving long cycles, large investments, regular assessments and feedbacks, and a continuous input of funds and personnel.
1) Environmental sustainability
a. The green space system: The improvement of the green space system can reduce the negative impact of urban construction on natural ecosystems, and improve the living standard of urban residents.
b. Protection of natural heritage sites: The ecological bottom lines help restore the wildlife habitats and natural ecosystems, so that the future generations can also enjoy the abundant natural resources. In addition, by controlling the openness of the spaces surrounding natural resources, the rights of residents to access urban natural resources are guaranteed.
c. Environmental monitoring and feedback: For the urban green space system planning and the ecological bottom line planning, Wuhan has mechanisms of regular evaluation and feedback in place to ensure the implementation of relevant plans. And through monitoring, we can assess the present plans and the problems with their implementation, and find solutions to guide our future work.
2) Social sustainability
a. Equal accessibility: In the practice of planning, we stress that natural resources should be equally accessible regardless of the economic ability and physical conditions of social groups. We make sure that a certain amount of public green space is reserved around important natural resources. We prohibit private development of such green space and open it to the public for free, thus guaranteeing the equal accessibility of natural resources for all social groups.
b. Rights and interests of vulnerable groups: In the process of public participation, we make sure that the voices of the elderly, children, women, and the disabled are heard. Through the Wuhan Public Planning Platform, we expand public participation to the fullest, thus providing reliable basic materials for the renewal and transformation of green spaces, and ensuring that the final results can accommodate the opinions and appeals of all walks of life and different age groups.
c. Public education: By participating in the transformation of green spaces, the citizens can acquire a good knowledge of environmental sustainability, thus enhancing their identity and pride and arousing their awareness of environmental protection.
3) Economic sustainability
a. The government takes the initiative to allocate funds for project implementation.
b. The government and the society make joint investments through PPP and other models to promote sustainable project implementation.
c. The society invests in mini plots.
1) Reproducibility of the planning management method: We draw ecological bottom lines, formulate regulations on control and management, and carry out regular assessments of the ecological bottom lines.
2) Reproducibility of public participation: We build an online public planning platform and cultivate community planners.
3) Reproducibility of project implementation methods: We give priority to implementing key projects in a planned manner.
4) Reproducibility of social capital investment: We introduce a variety of capital investment models, such as the government-society joint investment and the social investment in mini plots.
Wuhan's practice of green space planning has effectively protected important urban natural heritages and other natural heritages such as the Yangtze River, the Hanshui River, the East Lake, the Turtle Mountain, and the Snake Mountain. By controlling the utilization of green space around natural resources, Wuhan has increased its per capita park green space, park service coverage rate, and green space utilization rate, and optimized its overall air quality. Wuhan innovatively proposed the method for the planning, management, and control of basic ecological control lines, and guaranteed the sustainable urban development at the legislative level. As the country's first online public planning platform, Zhonggui Wuhan broke through the spatial barriers, effectively expanded public participation in urban planning and construction, and allowed the public to participate in the project planning from the very beginning, thus achieving the goal of connecting the public and professional institutions in planning. Through a series of urban green space planning and construction projects, Wuhan's per capita park green space has increased, but still falls short of the standards recommended by the UN-HABITAT. In the future, we need to reflect on our model of urban development and further improve the livability of our city.