(Yicai Global) Oct. 10 -- China's fee-charging scenic areas, such as forests, botanical gardens and wetlands, could be free for visitors in the near future, Zhang Jianlong, director of the country's State Forestry Administration, said in a forum today.
The administration held the forum today to discuss building forest cities. Zhang believes that greater efforts should be made to push for free admission to a number of parks for residents to expand their accessibility to green areas.
The State Council, China's cabinet, provided in 2013 that urban parks should begin to implement affordable pricing policies and run free opening days before transitioning to completely free-of-charge access. Since then, some urban parks in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have been opened up to the public for free.
However, running the parks without entrance fees will need financial support from the government. For example, China's central government pumped CNY879 million (USD135.43 million) into science museums in 2015 and 2016 in order to allow free admission into the nation's 123 such attractions, which are open an average of 242 days per year and attract 37.22 million annual visits.
The forestry administration will also turn to social funding to engage in the construction of forest cities to maximize forest coverage with limited land and fiscal support while promoting high quality, Zhang said.
The forest city concept is China's answer to eco-friendly urban development and a bid to tackle its pollution problem. They are akin to usual cities but are built with forestry in mind and feature dense greenery around buildings.