Bona fide woodland park needs native species, not artefacts

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 August, 2013, 2:52am

I echo K. N. Wai's letter on behalf of the Hong Kong Alternatives ("Swift action needed to create world-class park at arts hub", August 6).

I want to see the creation of a bona fide woodland park, not a second-rate parody. The woodland should occupy not less than 75 per cent of the site area and the bulk (over 90 per cent) of the site should be covered by soil with vegetation.

It should be composed of native tree species, and plenty of them are well suited for the site.

Concrete, asphalt, tile or other artificial paving materials, and unnecessary and visually obtrusive metal railings, should not be used.

A natural woodland does not have such artefacts.

The species palette should be determined as soon as possible.

As native species are seldom raised by tree nurseries in the region, advanced ordering is a must to tackle the critical supply bottleneck.

Otherwise, they will be substituted by commonplace exotic species. We have to pre-empt this eventuality, which may make or mar the scheme.

The park should not be adulterated by structures unrelated to its core function - as a venue for informal outdoor recreation in a natural setting. Plenty of land has been allocated adjoining the park for cultural buildings; there is no justification to intrude into the park to build more.

The lack of progress in park design is worrying. As an integral component of the West Kowloon Cultural District, its planning is evidently lagging behind other built structures.

It should not be relegated to a secondary or peripheral position. It will be a travesty of justice if funding for the park is fleeced to subsidise expensive cultural buildings. The park will enrich our culture and play an equally important social-cultural role as concert halls and museums. Please treat it with equal opportunity and enthusiasm.

Fine examples of urban woodland in other cities could serve as sources of inspiration, such as Berlin, London, Le Havre, Leipzig, Milan, Paris and Tokyo.

The key green infrastructure project has the potential to become a world-class signature project and a source of pride. Properly designed, it will provide salubrious enjoyment to generations of citizens who will be truly grateful for the attractive public amenity.

I plead with the government not to squander it. Let us join hands to turn the dream into reality.

C. Y. Jim, chair professor, department of geography, University of Hong Kong



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