The existing industry along the riverbank poses a challenge for the initiative given the extensive amount of pollution already in the area. In that sense, this is truly a rehabilitation project and the team has been tasked with figuring out how to relocate or remove industrial sites along the riverbank. However, the incorporation of green space in the area will deliver ecological and social benefits even before factories have been relocated.
The Wuhan Rehabilitation Project aims to modify 7.5km along the Yangtze River, including separate lanes for motorized vehicles and bicycles, a rainwater capture system, a pedestrian greenbelt, and an additional 15km of green roads closed to motorized vehicles. The project began in 2013 and is set to be completed by the end of 2017.
The plan has been developed to promote better drainage to avoid pooling in the riverbank area, which both strengthens the resiliency of the terrain and minimises the accumulation of localised pollutants. Vegetation buffer strips, bio-swales, rainwater gardens and permeable pavement will work to prevent soil loss and avoid waterlogging, protecting the riparian environment.
The project team has also developed a plan for a parking platform on a lower portion of the embankment which will ultimately provide 2,000 parking spots. This addition will play a part in promoting the area as a destination, rather than an industrial waste site. In total, the project includes 700,000 square meters of green space with an estimated 723.8 tonnes of carbon sequestered annually and 2,400 tonnes of O2 released by 45,000 new trees.
In the long term, the project will play a part in strengthening the local ecosystem by minimizing the urban heat island effect in the area –– the project will be made up of 70% green space or water, consuming solar radiation through heat absorption, shading, and moisture transpiration to bring a natural airflow into the city in the summer and decelerate wind speeds in the winter.
The slope rehabilitation along the riverbank reduces flooding risks along the Yangtze, which is particularly important given that the area is particularly vulnerable to El Niño storm events. This project will propel Wuhan’s work to become a low-carbon city forward and will work to develop a new culture of sustainability in the city by encouraging citizens to walk more and develop new relationships with the local terrain.