Intensive care saves 30 large trees for estate

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 April, 2006, 12:00am

When Liu Chun-cheong planted a Chinese banyan tree in Shekkipmei, he had no idea he would be saving the same tree 19 years later.

The tree is one of 30 the Housing Department estate assistant has helped to move to make way for the redevelopment of Pak Tin Estate.

The tree, originally at a road junction, now stands in the estate's park. It had to go because the road was being widened.

'It is such a beautiful tree,' Mr Liu said. 'It went through so much wear and tear before it settled here in the park - it was uprooted, and much of its canopy and roots were trimmed. Nonetheless, it is saved now. And we hope it will adapt well.'

In its years at the estate, the tree has grown to 9 metres high, 3 metres in diameter and with a 14-metre canopy.

The relocated trees also include Delonix regia and cotton trees.

Each year, the Housing Department transplants 100 to 200 trees, mostly in spring or summer when the higher humidity gives them a better chance of recovery. After transplanting, trees receive intensive care for six to 12 months, while they adapt to the new ecosystem.

Sometimes, trees that have to be moved have to be planted in the gardens of landscape contractors until a permanent site can be found.

Seven of the trees replanted in the Pak Tin park came from Lam Tin Resite Village and Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate. They had been nursed by the contractors for six months to four years before being transplanted.

Green Power executive-director Man Chi-sum said trees were reasonably well protected at government construction sites.

But he said tree felling on private construction sites had yet to be monitored properly.

Private developers need to apply for approval from the Lands Department for felling trees on construction sites. Developers who fail to comply can be fined.

Two years ago, Cheung Kong (Holdings) paid $32 million in compensation to the Lands Department for felling or damaging 250 trees at its project One Beacon Hill residential project in Kowloon Tong. Mr Man said developers were undeterred by the present policy and he urged the passage of a tree-protection ordinance.

'The fine is much smaller than what developers can gain from felling trees,' he said.

'We need the backup of the law to monitor developers and protect the trees.'