By Tom Degun

Youth_Olympics_2014_logoMarch 21 - Several groups in the Chinese city of Nanjing are campaigning to stop the authorities uprooting ancient trees which line the streets in preparation for the Youth Olympic Games in 2014.

Nanjing have marketed the competition as "a green Youth Olympic Games" but local residents are angry at the move to cut down thousands of phoenix trees aged between 70 and 80-years-old in order to improve the transport infrastructure ahead of the event.

Despite the online campaigns in Nanjing, the trees on Taiping Nan Lu were recently destroyed and replaced by a four-lane highway, while the Nanjing Government have indicated that more will be removed to prepare the city for new metro stations for the Games.

An open letter to the Nanjing 2014 Organising Committee from protesters says: "This is an unacceptable change for people who love this place.

"It is the last sacrifice we would like to make for any construction and we also believe it is a betrayal of Olympic spirit and regression of civilisation.

"The Olympic organisation (the IOC) would never ask for this.

"A lot of people are making the effort of saving the precious trees and it is our sincere hope that the YOG organisation can take a look at this ancient city and help these trees."

A statement on the Nanjing 2014 website says: "Nanjing is making great efforts to strengthen the protection of the historical city and the comprehensive treatment of the environment, in order to build a better environment.

"The Green Nanjing Project has been widely developed and has been successful in the comprehensive treatment of environmental and historical sites.

"The forest coverage of the city is 24 per cent, the green coverage of the built-up areas is 46.1 per cent and the average park area is 13.2 square meters, ranking among the top cities in China.

"There are 23 nature reserves in the city; the acreage under protection is 749.29 square kilometres, accounting for about 11.38 per cent of the city area."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
March 2011: Populous appointed master planners for Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics
January 2011: IOC "very impressed" by preparations for 2014 Youth Olympic Games
August 2010: Rogge issues warning to Nanjing over 2014 Youth Olympics
February 2010: Nanjing beats Poznan to 2014 Summer Youth Olympics