Our trees need more loving care, says group

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 December, 2007, 12:00am

An environmental group has urged the government to bring in legislation to protect the city's trees and do more to educate the public and people who work with trees.

The remarks came after a study showed most of the trees in urban, residential areas were mistreated and could collapse.

Despite growing concerns over the state of trees in the city, nothing had been done to improve the situation since a 200-year-old 'king' banyan tree in Kowloon Park partially collapsed in August, the group said.

The study was conducted by the Conservancy Association between July and December, and found that 85 per cent of 339 trees on the roadside or on housing estates in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island were rotting or had other problems.

It also showed that 90 per cent of trees inspected had been pruned badly, while 87 per cent had been planted in areas where there was not enough room for their roots to grow.

About 19 per cent of the trees had been damaged by vehicles or people hanging banners or bird cages on them. The study was conducted by certified tree surgeons and 100 trained volunteers.

The association's conservation manager, Ken So Kwok-yin, said: 'For a long time, people here have been mistreating trees.'

He said Hong Kong, unlike many other cities, lacked a law to protect trees and that there were not enough certified tree surgeons. He said Singapore had more expert workers than Hong Kong, despite it being a smaller city. Mr So said the association had also inspected trees recognised by the government as being old and valuable, and had found similar problems.

A separate study of 133 old trees found 93 per cent of them had been poorly pruned and 52 per cent had other problems such as rotting.

The results of the study were announced at a Tree Lovers' Day held in Sheung Shui yesterday