Housing Authority park plan modifies tree-felling proposal

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 April, 2008, 12:00am

The Housing Authority has unveiled plans for a park on a 50,000 square metre site in Stanley where an earlier plan for a horticultural park was dropped in the face of protests from environmentalists.

The plan calls for replacement of about 100 trees on the site near the historic Murray Building. Under the previous plan, put forward in 2005, 550 were to have been cut down. The authority will put the tender out for contract with a scheduled completion date of March 2010.

The chief architect of the authority, Rosa Ho Lok So-fun, said the aim was to keep the tranquillity, plants and landscape of the land while providing facilities for the public.

'We want to make use of the existing platform,' Mrs Ho said.

'We are not changing much of the landscape, as we will just stabilise some of the slopes and foster green management.'

The site was originally tendered to the private Ding Yuen Arboriculture Foundation, which withdrew after the authority proposed to scale back the project in the face of green groups' protests over the removal of trees.

Under the latest plan, about 100 trees will be removed during slope stabilisation but they will be replaced with trees from 12 local woodland species.

The authority's senior landscape architect, Evans Iu Po-lung, said the trees to be removed were of invasive and aggressive species.

'They are not of much value from the ecological point of view. They are not attracting birds or insects.'

Under planning requirements, the Housing Authority must build a park for the nearby Ma Hang public housing estate.

Tree expert Jim Chi-yung - a vocal defender of the city's trees - praised the move to replace invasive species with 'more valuable trees'. But he advised the authority to monitor the fertility of the soil, as the woodland species used up more organic matter than the existing trees.

He also hoped the construction company would use stones instead of concrete when making the footpaths.

Besides the trees, 12 species of butterfly will be introduced to the park's butterfly garden.

The authority proposed that the park include a butterfly garden, an observation tower near the coast and an educational path about the park's landscapes.

The area currently only has hikers' paths and lacks basic facilities.

The authority will install toilets and such security measures as closed-circuit television cameras. And there will be three entrances to the park compared with one now.