Rutgers ecologists and Brooklyn Botanic Garden botanists to plan Beijing Olympics Forest Park

04/15/04

New Brunswick, NJ-- Ecologists at Rutgers' Cook College & New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) and botanists from Brooklyn Botanic Garden have been selected as the winning team in the international competition to design the new Forest Park for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games. The ecologists and botanists are affiliated with the Center for Urban Restoration Ecology (CURE), a collaboration between Rutgers ecologists and Brooklyn Botanic Garden botanists. Working in partnership with Sasaki Associates, the eminent landscape architecture and planning company, the CURE team formulated the ecological basis of the new park, including lake, stream, meadow, and woodland habitats. They received the Award of Excellence in the competition for the natural landscaping of the 2,200 acre site--about three times the size of New York City's Central Park. There were 51 competitors, worldwide, judged by a jury reporting to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning. Presently, the landscape design plan is being implemented on the vast site.

CURE was invited to contribute the ecological and botanical components of the competition entry by Sasaki Associates, based in Boston, who coordinated the competition entry. In addition, the Tsinghua University Urban Planning and Design Institute in Beijing is part of the team, providing design and administrative functions.

"The complex ecological design aims to maximize biodiversity on this site, which is surrounded by the huge city," says Dr. Steven Handel, director of CURE. "Solving issues of re-introduction of native plants and animals, habitat fragmentation, invasive species control, water management, and plant-animal interactions is critical for long-term success."

Dr. Steven Clemants, vice president of science, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and co-director of CURE, said "This is a great opportunity to, not only create a park, but also to better understand what the native biodiversity of the region is and to essentially, re-introduce that native biodiversity to the citizens of Beijing."

In addition, "A key part of the CURE proposal is for capacity building, which will be accomplished through continuing education courses to train the next generation of Chinese land managers in the principles of restoration ecology," says Handel. "University exchanges and scientific workshops are also being planned for sharing skills between United States and Chinese scientists. Along with funds from the Beijing organizers, it is hoped that various international foundations and agencies will support the training activities.

"The Games are scheduled for August, 2008, and much of the park must be built by then for the enjoyment and education of the thousands of visitors to the Games," Handel continues. "The park will become a central feature of Beijing's natural environment, adding ecological services and biodiversity to the capitol of the world's most populous country. The park will be a major tourist attraction, exhibiting the natural history of Beijing, and will complement the many cultural sites of the ancient city," he explained.

The ecologists, botanists and landscape designers will work together in groups that address plant, animal, and landscape issues. The team draws upon the expertise of faculty from a broad assortment of disciplines at Rutgers, Cook College and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Michigan State University, Beijing University and Tsinghua University. Participants include Rutgers faculty from CURE; Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute; and Cook College's Departments of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources; Plant Biology; Environmental Sciences and Landscape Architecture.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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