Lack of care blamed for large number of trees felled
Inadequate space for growth, the wrong species and probably lax monitoring of planting may be to blame for the large number of trees knocked down by Severe Typhoon Vicente, says a tree specialist.
Ken So Kwok-yin has called for an urgent citywide inspection of trees to reduce the danger to passers-by.
'Some trees that were supposed to be fine before might now be tilted or damaged,' said So, the chief executive of the Conservancy Association.
He said the typhoon had exposed long-standing problems with urban tree management.
'We have a situation similar to that in the aftermath of Typhoon York 13 years ago,' he said. 'It means the problems have not changed much at all.'
So said his observations indicated that increasing numbers of white popinac - an exotic tree which adapts well to the local environment and grows quickly to a large size - were toppling, which might indicate a lack of proper care. 'They grow quickly but are often planted in places where they do not belong,' he said.
He estimated that half of the fallen trees might have had problems - such as decay - even before the latest typhoon, while about 30 per cent did not have enough space to grow in or had their roots and base covered by concrete.
So said he believed that many banyan trees that fell during the typhoon - including an old and valuable tree in Kowloon Park - had suffered from brown root rot that caused another banyan to fall over in a shopping street in Tsim Sha Tsui last Thursday.
A 15-metre banyan on Wong Nai Chung Road in Happy Valley, also listed on the government's register of old and valuable trees, was chopped down yesterday after being damaged in the storm. A Leisure and Cultural Services Department spokesman said four other trees on the register had been blown over on Monday.
At the government headquarters in Tamar, Admiralty, some 50 trees planted about a year ago collapsed in an open space near the waterfront area on Monday and Tuesday. Some of those still intact have been restored to their original positions.
But So said he found that about five of these trees still had their roots bagged in nylon wrap, indicating that the planting had not been properly monitored. He said trees could be planted with their roots bagged but only if they were in biodegradable material, not nylon which would restrict their growth.
The Development Bureau said all departments had been requested to step up inspection of trees.
The number of trees knocked down in Hong Kong by Typhoon York in 1999. Severe Typhoon Vicente knocked down more than 1,400 trees