Don't transplant banyans

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 March, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 March, 1993, 12:00am

I REFER to the article on the transplanting of the banyan trees in Sports Road (South China Morning Post, March 10).

With no disrespect to Professor Alun Griffiths and Mr Michael Kirkbride, as a practising tree surgeon, I rate the likely success rate for such a transplant as being less than 50 per cent, despite all the mechanical ingenuity and horticultural measures and protective steps to be taken in a period of 18 months or more.

The physiological stress and the shock resulting from the tree surgery will be too great for the transplants of such an age to survive in a new environment.

The natural immunity of trees to diseases will also be so weakened that a large portion of the tree will, sooner or later, be ''paralysed''.

Let common sense prevail. If the Government approves the expansion of the Jockey Club's facilities, it would be more sensible to approve the tree felling and ask the Jockey Club to donate the cost of over $2 million for the transplanting operation to Mr Peter Mann, District Officer of Wan Chai District, who can well use the money to improve the environment of Wan Chai. In this way, at least 1,000 standard trees can be planted in their place.

Meanwhile, two or more standard banyan trees can be planted at the intersection of Wong Nai Chung Road in advance. By the time the two aged banyan trees are supposed to be moved, the newly planted younger banyans would be stable and flourishing.

The Jockey Club would be pleased because it could proceed with the expansion works sooner and also save further unnecessary expense on consultant fees. The public and tree lovers would benefit, because more trees could be planted immediately. The two 130years old banyan trees will also be spared the agony of a slow death.

By implementing such a practical proposal, the Jockey Club can complete the expansion works earlier and attract a larger number of racing fans to Happy Valley. May I suggest that the Jockey Club dedicate the first race on the expanded facilities to ''alllandscapers'' and give the proceeds to Greening Hongkong.

S. L. CHONG Kowloon