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April 10, 2010

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Ocean, wetland, garden and deer

Binjiang Forest Park has it all - majestic seaviews, protected marshlands, camphor and redwood thickets, flowers galore and now some deer - fawns are expected next month. Wing Tan reports.

Binjiang Forest Park features a magnificent 2-kilometer coastline, pristine forest, protected wetlands, verdant valley, lavish flowering gardens - and now roe deer.

The coastline, the park's highlight on its northern border, offers spectacular views of the Huangpu and Yangtze rivers rushing into the East China Sea. A beckoning wooden walkway follows the coastline that sweeps from east to west in a wide curve.

This 120-hectare oasis is the city's third largest forest park after Gongqing Forest Park in Yangpu District and Century Park in Pudong New Area.

In the northeastern corner of the Pudong New Area and well outside of the city proper, the park is a refreshing urban escape.

The park has been renovated, and the next phase of work will expand it to 300 hectares.

The park that was set up three years ago features special plants, Shanghai's only azalea valley and a children's zone.

For many visitors, the first stop is coastline, then come the forest and gardens.

"If the visibility is good, visitors can not only see the 'three waters' (two rivers and the sea), but also distant Hengsha, Changxing and Chongming islands," says Han Yanmin, deputy director of the park's management committee.

The coastline was renovated from the northern sea wall of the Pudong New Area and the eastern dike at the Wusong Port on the Huangpu River. It is both a tourist attraction and a flood-control barrier.

Along the coastline walkway, three waterfront viewing platforms let visitors get closer to the water.

The forest contains more than 200,000 trees and shrubs, including more than 204 wild species. It takes almost 40 minutes of brisk walking to get out of the woods.

"The woods are so big that we built a wooden path to keep visitors from getting lost and protect the wild plants from being stepped on," says Han.

After leaving the woods visitors can see a forest in the west of metasequoia (dawn redwood) and cedar, traversed by an old stone path.

The forest is so thick that during the renovation project tress had to be thinned and a few cut to create some open space and sunshine.

A nearby orchard contains date, orange, persimmon, waxberry and other fruit trees, as well as white flowering May bushes. In the autumn visitors can pick oranges.

The 13-hectare wetland on the park's west contains a lake formed by several streams flowing through the forest. Birds skim the waters lined with iris, water plants, willows and water onions. Trees include metasequoias, maples and magnolia with large fragrant flowers.

The lake contains more than 50 aquatic plants; lilies and lotus bloom in the summer.

A natural island, marsh and creeks are another oasis. The waters of lake and streams are pristine and rare fish species can be seen.


This is the season of flowers. Sakura, peach blossoms and magnolia are in bloom or about to open. And the azaleas blooming now are magnificent in an azalea valley of 5,000 shrubs and 1,000 lily magnolias in yellow, white and purple.

What visitors see today is only the park's first construction phase. When the second phase is completed next year, it will cover 300 hectares and connect with the green belt of the Outer-Ring Road.

The park will be an ecological link between Chongming Island and Jiuduansha Wetland, as well as the best place to see the convergence of the Huangpu River.

In addition, this "green lung" greatly improves the air quality in the Gaoqiao area and serves as a "green channel" connecting the suburban forest and downtown green belts.

Last October, the park introduced 12 small roe deer, which were extinct in Shanghai for decades, into the wild forest area in a research project with East China Normal University. The first fawns are expected to be born in May and June.

"If they survive, Shanghai will have roe deer again," says Xu Zhong, the park's director.


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