xi's moments
Home | City Tour

Chinese infrastructure projects built on solid environmental foundations

China Daily | Updated: 2021-10-28 07:25

"On a beautiful day, you could see various animals, zebras, gazelles, giraffes, even elephants," Fauzia Hussein, a passenger on the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, describes the wildlife she observed along the route. Since it began operating in 2017, the railway has been crossed by countless wild animals migrating between north and south, bringing a spectacle of life to the vast grasslands of East Africa.

While, on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China, Tibetan antelopes started crossing the Qinghai-Tibet Railway as early as 2006, bringing a frenzy of life to the wild and normally silent natural landscape.

Such Chinese construction projects have made a concerted effort to avoid disrupting the flow of wildlife while supplying much-needed infrastructure.

Every year from May to July, Tibetan antelopes migrate for their calving season. Female antelopes from the Sanjiangyuan (Three-River-Source) area of Qinghai province, in Altun Mountains of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and in Qiangtang of the Tibet autonomous region, gather together and travel to Zonag Lake in Northwest China's Hoh Xil nature reserve.

Thanks to the construction of dedicated corridors for wildlife, the tracks that wind across Hoh Xil have not caused any geographic separation in the nature reserve, meaning that the annual migration of the antelopes continues year after year.

The engineers took into account the migration of wild animals, such as Tibetan antelopes, and built 33"eco-access points" adapted to the local fauna in terms of location, width and height.

Eight years later, the same technique was used in the design and construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, an important transport link between the Kenyan port city and the country's capital. As the railroad tracks bisect the Nairobi and Tsavo National Park, the largest nature reserve in Kenya, the potential impact on wildlife and the environment was of utmost concern for local conservationists.

During the design process, railway engineers took a series of targeted measures to address environmental issues by drawing on the designs of the A50 motorway in the Netherlands, the B38 in Germany and the Qinghai-Tibet Railway in China, says Zhang Jingqiao, chief designer of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway. There has been a growing environmental awareness on such Chinese projects, and the aim for these infrastructure sites is to provide the ability for people and nature to live in harmony.

Based on the research of wildlife migration corridors, 14 crossings for large animals and 79 bridges have been constructed along the route.

All of the bridges have a height of 6.5 meters or more, which allows giraffes to pass without having to lower their heads.

The Mombasa-Nairobi Railway allows all types of wildlife to cross the line freely. Director General of the Kenya Wildlife Service Kitili Mbathi says that he has personally carried out checks along the line and found no negative impact on the wildlife.

While preserving migration corridors, it is also essential to create ecological pathways, which attaches equal importance to local flora and fauna.

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway built a green path in excess of 700 kilometers along the track by planting trees, bushes and grass where needed, while the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway protected mangroves and wetlands along the route by reducing logging and burying a number of irrigation pipes to ensure the growth of mangroves continues uninterrupted.

The green path is based on environmental protection, so pollution abatement is key to reducing damage amid the construction and operation of railways.

As the various ecologies of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau hold a special place in the world, the railway crossing adopted a new fully enclosed wagon with an advanced sewage and waste collection system.

"The trains are equipped with collection devices that prevent sewage and waste from being discharged directly onto the line," says Konchog Chodron, a conductor of China Railway Qinghai-Tibet Group.

Crossing two major national parks in Kenya, the railway uses available transport corridors to reduce its secondary impact on the ecosystem of the nature reserve and limit waste and noise pollution, says Li Changgui, general manager of China Road and Bridge Corporation Kenya Office.

Praising the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, which draws on the experience of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, Marco Lambertini, director general of the World Wide Fund for Nature International, says that Chinese companies have shown that infrastructure construction can be environmentally friendly.

Wu Xiaomin, a researcher from the Shaanxi Institute of Zoology, says that, in recent years, the areas where Tibetan antelopes migrate to give birth have been extended gradually, and their reproduction, habitats and migration corridors have yielded remarkable results.

In Kenya, Benson Okita Ouma, head of monitoring at Save the Elephants, says: "Both the fence and underpasses in Tsavo East and West National Park have effectively facilitated movement of wild animals as they look for food and water."


Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349