40 million Olympic flowers for Beijing

Beijing beautifies but critics question if it's a wise use of scare water resources.

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    BEIJING FLOWERS: Olympic-themed floral displays are created at the Flower Distribution Center.
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Beijing has planted more than 40 million potted flowers around Olympic venues and city streets, including special "heat-resistant" strains capable of withstanding the Chinese capital’s baking summer temperatures.

The flowers will also grace hotels and the Olympic Village and will decorate the vast concrete expanse of Tiananmen Square in the heart of the city, Xinhua news agency said, citing Beijing forestry officials.

"July and August are usually a hard time for flowers," the agency quoted Wang Sumei, vice director of the Beijing Landscape Forestation Bureau, as saying.

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"We picked up over 20 kinds of heat-resistant flowers from more than 500 species of seasonable flowers to decorate the city, including chrysanthemum and salvia," Mr. Wang said.

Beijing has planted millions of plants and rosebushes to cover some 21,943 acres since 2000, as part of its commitment to hold a "green Olympics," Xinhua said.

In the past seven years, Beijing has planted 22.7 million trees, 46.5 million square meters of lawn, and expanded the city’s green spaces from 36 percent to 43 percent, Wang said.

While welcomed by residents, Beijing’s planting of thousands of acres of lawn and trees has been criticized by some environmentalists who say the city of more than 16 million people can ill afford to divert scarce water reserves for their upkeep.

Last month, a report by Canada-based conservation group Probe International warned that Beijing’s Olympic beautification was depleting already strained underground water supplies.

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