The capital has planted 11.23 million trees, covering 123 square kilometers as of May 1, accounting for 74 percent of the forest project, according to a news release from Beijing Municipal Bureau of Landscape and Forestry.
The project was later increased to 166 square kilometers. It was first planned to grow 133 square kilometers, or 46 times the area of the Summer Palace, reported the Beijing Daily yesterday.
According to the bureau, the project aims to change the reality that the overall arrangement of Beijing's forests is irrational and its ecology is fragile. The percentage of forest cover reaches 37 percent in the city, with 50 percent of it in mountainous areas, but only 14 percent in low-lying areas.
Trees are planted mainly in areas around the Sixth Ring Road, in place of demolished urban villages, around waterways and close to the airport.
"It's very positive for Beijing to plant many trees, but the methodology behind the planting needs improving," said Li Hao, an environmental scholar.
The pace of the plantation projects is too high, she noted.
"The idea of mainly planting big trees and making forests in a short time is not scientific," she said, adding that the trees are also too densely grown and ground vegetation is not kept after planting in some areas.
According to the bureau, the project was formally launched in Tongzhou district on March 16, when 5,000 trees were planted, including Chinese pine, ginkgo and locust trees.
According to the Beijing Daily, each area is planned as a small botanical garden, with arbor species, shrub and ground vegetation. In Beijing, the poplar is most widely planted, followed by the locust tree, willow, pine and cypress.