《景观设计学》2022年第1期作 者：肖华斌（XIAO Huabin），埃米莉·施里克曼（Emily SCHLICKMAN），汪洁琼（WANG Jieqiong）等类 别：景观出 版 社：高等教育出版社出版时间：2022年2月
We Cannot Lose Rural Paradises Anymore
—Building New Infrastructure for Quality Residential Tourism and Three Suggestions for Guilin Towards a World-Class Tourist City, by Yu Kongjian
With blessed assets in natural resources, cultural legacy, and climatic conditions, a number of regions throughout China—such as Guilin in Guangxi Province, Huangshan in Anhui, Wuyuan in Jiangxi, Liangshan in Sichuan, Dali in Yunnan, Xingyi in Guizhou, Turpan in Xinjiang, as well as Hainan Island and Tibet—are qualified as world-class residential tourism destinations. For years, single-purpose tourism-oriented development modes have failed to fully manifest such high-value assets; meanwhile, extensive infrastructure construction (large-scale rural demolition, industrialized rural water conservancy projects, etc.) and generic land development strategies have irreversibly destroyed a large number of vernacular natural and cultural landscapes. With the increased urbanization level, people’s growing demand for a good life and aesthetic opportunities will boost residential tourism in the near future, when these seemingly so-ordinary vernacular cultural landscapes will become scarce resources.
In April 2022, the 11th meeting of the Communist Party of China's Central Financial and Economic Committee promoted the integrated advances in infrastructure development. To seize the opportunities in current infrastructure construction, it is necessary to plan and build a new type of infrastructure system for vast areas of China where world-class residential tourism destinations can be created based on vernacular natural and cultural landscapes, and to develop related rural land use strategies proactively, avoiding the loss of more rural paradises. Synchronously, at the “Lijiang River Forum 2022” held in Guilin City, the author proposed Three Suggestions to Achieve a World-Class Tourist City to the Guilin Municipal Government. In the context of the upcoming infrastructure development and the ongoing rural revitalization, it is the time to build future world-class residential tourism destinations by constructing a new type of infrastructure system with related rural land use strategies.
Such an ambition challenges Guilin to both protect its outstanding natural resources and boost local economic growth. The wise solution is to improve the ecosystem services of its prominent natural landscapes, transforming its existing traditional tourism towards world-class residential tourism. This requires the city to develop a supporting infrastructure system, including ecological slow-traffic infrastructures and land use strategies that promote rural activation and meet the needs for immersive residential tourism. To this end, the author proposes the following three key suggestions.
First, develop a Charming Landscape Network. At macro-, meso-, and micro-scales, this network will form a “one-heart, two-rings” pattern that can tap the values of the ecosystem services of Guilin landscapes. “One-heart” refers to the urbanized area of Guilin, and “two-rings” refers to the “residential tourism landscape ring” in the south and the “rural heritage ring” in the north. Lijiang River runs across and links up the heart and rings. Four measures of land protection and restoration are suggested for the construction of this Charming Landscape Network.
1) Build territorial land sponges. Nourish land by improving water-resilience at watershed scale; alleviate droughts and floods with Nature-Based Solutions; and store rainwater at the source, decelerate runoff, and establish an adaptive landscape at the end.
2) De-harden water system. Channelization has deteriorated Guilin landscapes, where concreate dams ruthlessly damage both water ecosystems and the landscape values.
3) Develop organic farming. For rural areas with unique landscapes, farmlands for organic products can bring about higher overall ecosystem services than those for industrialized bulk agricultural products, especially concerning the aesthetic enlightenment service. Considering difficulties in popularizing ecological green agriculture nationwide, cities such as Guilin with unique landscapes can become pilots to develop organic farming.
4) Protect and revitalize rural heritage. In the past decades, many historic villages have been demolished, while the remaining ones are tumbledown. A tactical approach to revitalizing these villages, instead of adopting passive protection methods that offer little help in the dilapidation, is to integrate such rural heritage as part of the unique landscapes by preserving their identifiable authenticity under principles of reversible transformation.
Second, construct a slow traffic system for immersive self-service individual travelers. Based on a one-year research, the author’s team proposed a slow-traffic tourist network with a skeleton consisting of a series of crossed greenways and a green loop, which covers the whole area of Guilin with trails for cycling, walking, horse riding, and water tour, as well as a railway for mini tour train. Spanning from Lingqu Canal in the north to Yangshuo County on the south, the tourist network also links up a number of ancient towns and villages, allowing visitors to better enjoy the attractive landscapes. The slow traffic system along Lijiang River will be key to the entire network. Different from the high-speed, intensive traffic system to support traditional tourism, the slow traffic system minimizes human interference onto the nature and encourages diverse immersive activities supported by carefully designed landscape nodes, cultural facilities, and homestay connected by interpretation and service systems.
Third, revitalize the poetic lifestyle in villages, i.e., “Wangshan lifestyle” (literally mountain-viewing lifestyle) as called by the author, which is composed by poetic settlements, ecological agriculture, self-serve travel, educational enlightment, and artist and cultural creation. This is also an approach to realizing Guilin’s transition from a traditional tourist city to a world-class residential tourism destination. One main difficulty in this process is to balance the capitalization of collective construction land and the security of social capital, which means to activate idle assets by guaranteeing the interests of the locals. The “collage living–production” mode proposed for Guilin can vitalize idle lands in the 52 villages in the riverfront, which cover an area of 15-square-kilometer and is planned to accommodate 54,000 beds for visitors. The estimated annual revenue is approximately 10 billion yuan①. In this way, while realizing the rural revitalization of vast areas along Lijiang River, visitors can also have a joyful time within the picturesque landscapes.
The above three strategic suggestions for Guilin’s future development that require low inputs while can substantively promote local economic growth will ultimately renovate the regional tourism mode by transforming the city into a sustainable residential tourism destination with charming countryside landscapes. These suggestions which respond to the idea that lucid waters and lush mountains are exactly invaluable assets and facilitate rural revitalization and common prosperity can also provide reference for decision-makers of other areas with the same potential to become world-class residential tourism destinations.
 Yu, K. (2017). New ruralism movement in China and its impacts on protection and revitalization of heritage villages: Xixi’nan experiment in Huizhou District, Anhui Province. Bulletin of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 32(7), 696-710. doi:10.16418/j.issn.1000-3045.2017.07.004
① Data source: the field survey in 2021 by the research group from Peking University and Turenscape.