talk back

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 December, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 December, 2003, 12:00am


Q What do you think of the Central Christmas tree?

The Christmas Wishing Tree is wonderful. The dimensions of the surrounding buildings demand a grand size, and who wants to fell a mature growing tree?

It is evocative of magical seasonal happenings: the tree that grows in the Nutcracker, the day the home decorations go up and that explosion of light, colour and music that appeals to every warm-hearted person at this time of year. It's the stuff dreams are made of. Taste, sophistication? Humbug!

Angela M. Rigby, North Point

Q Should trees on the marine police site be cut down?

As landscape consultant to the former marine police headquarters, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the points raised in your article 'Trees face the axe at historic colonial site' on Wednesday.

In response to concerns raised by the green groups, a detailed tree survey report has been undertaken by a professional landscape architectural consultant. It found that all the trees were common to Hong Kong and that there were no rare or protected species.

During the development of the design, the existing trees formed an important dimension and every opportunity was taken to retain them. The design recognised the importance of a number of trees (approximately 19) that were considered absolutely key to the site's historical setting and appearance. These trees will all be retained within the proposed architectural scheme.

The retained trees (including six very important trees) are the largest on the site, typically ranging up to 20 metres in height with crowns of up to 20 metres in diameter and trunk diameters ranging up to 1.1 metres.

The tree protection and preservation measures proposed for the retained trees represent best current horticultural and arboricultural practice and incorporate lessons learned from similar projects in Hong Kong.

In addition, the landscape design team recognised the importance that strict site supervision will play in the successful retention of the existing trees, so a landscape architect will oversee all of the work that could potentially affect the retained trees.

The majority of the remaining trees (about 140) are small, with trunks less than 30cm and a poor to average form, which reflects their growth in close proximity to one another and their location on steep-sided slopes. Although providing a resource as a group, they have little individual amenity value and are not part of the historic context of the site.

About 27 trees are identified for transplantation to new locations. However, many of the existing trees cannot be transplanted for horticultural reasons. The key objective of this project is not the destruction of an urban resource but the enhancement of a key historic site and its safeguarding for future generations. To this end, the development seeks to maximise the number of trees planted, creating a green oasis that will be accessible and enjoyed by the public.

Working closely with the design team, the landscape architects have identified opportunities to plant 60 new trees. With the inclusion of the retained and transplanted trees there will be about 106 trees in total throughout the site.

This is lower than the number currently there, but the site will contain many more high-quality trees that can be enjoyed for many years to come.

Christopher Foot, Sheung Wan

Q Was it excusable for Arthur Li to play computer games in a Legco meeting?

Why was there such an uproar about education chief Arthur Li Kwok-cheung 'multi-tasking' during Legco proceedings? If a Cambridge graduate can't multi-task, who can?

Wouldn't it be more appropriate to reprimand a certain Legco member for his offensive 'digital' behaviour in the midst of a public demonstration [Philip Wong Yu-hong, who raised his middle finger to protesters on July 9]?

As secondary teachers, we have spent more than a little time in class, since the incident, explaining why the aforementioned 'gesture' is not acceptable in polite society.

This type of behaviour has, in our opinion, had a more detrimental effect upon our students than their discovery that Mr Li plays video games (who doesn't?). Moreover, we're sending a message to our students as to which behaviour is more acceptable. Look who received an award!

Betty J. Windham and Ashley Worthington, Tsuen Wan

Q How can sites of ecological importance be better protected?

There are three key steps.

Firstly, sites of ecological importance must be officially recognised and placed under zoning protection. This, for the most part, has not been done, despite the fact that various privately funded studies have identified most, if not all, ecologically important sites in Hong Kong.

Secondly, civil servants, particularly those employed at supervisory level in works departments, must be both inspired and required under the threat of disciplinary action to respect the environment.

Thirdly, enforcement and prosecution action must be taken without fear or favour on the perpetrators of the degradation, and disciplinary action imposed on supervisory staff whose contracts cause environmental damage. Consultants employed on contract management who fail to ensure environmental protection should be banned from working on future government contracts.

The Tung Chung river case will be a showcase to test government resolve in this area.

Clive Noffke, Lantau