ULI Urban Open Space Award Finalist: Baxi River Forest Island

Changsha is a bustling city of 7 million people in China’s central Hunan province. The Baxi River meanders through the city, carrying water flows that have created 15 scattered islands near the city. Seasonal flooding, rapid water flow, and constructed monocultures have caused escalating erosion, destabilization, and loss of habitat along the banks. Past approaches to managing the river have favored the creation of hard edges to protect land and property. With the two-mile-long (3.2 km), 156-acre (63 ha) Baxi River Forest Island, the local government tried a new approach. It embraced the river ecosystem, creating a new park that is helping both nature and people thrive.