Trees at racecourse decapitated despite ban
More than 100 trees in the public recreation ground at Happy Valley racecourse have been stripped of their crowns by government workers, despite a ban on such brutal pruning by the government's Tree Management Office.
The trees along the jogging path stand without a single leaf. About 60 of them were frangipani, chopped to less than two metres high.
A spokeswoman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which manages the ground, admitted the latest pruning exercise was 'more extensive' than in the past but said tree health was not affected. She added that frontline staff would be reminded to be more cautious.
Last night the Tree Management Office, which has classified crowning as bad practice, said it was working with the LCSD to understand the 'vegetation management' of the affected trees.
Frankie Tang Chung-kit, who jogs at the racecourse every day, said the trees were chopped down about a month ago. They were now half their size and no longer good for providing shade in the summer, he said.
Ken So Kwok-yin, chief executive of the Conservancy Association, was dismayed to find government workers still using the 'topping' practice, where the entire crown is removed.
'I'm disappointed the workers continue to use the practice despite the guidelines. There is no penalty for such bad practice, and this is perhaps why we've seen it happen again and again,' So said.
Without leaves, the trees cannot function and become vulnerable to fungal attack. 'Workers may think some pruning may stimulate the leaves and flowers but repeated topping would only weaken them and eventually kill them,' he said.
The arborist also questioned whether the trees were trimmed so as not to block Jockey Club race cameras but the club denied this.
Tanya Chan, a Civic Party lawmaker, said it was unbelievable that the government allowed staff to use a practice it had banned. 'The Leisure and Cultural Services Department must explain why,' she added.