Government must do better when it comes to protecting trees

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 August, 2015, 4:53pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 August, 2015, 4:53pm

I am writing about the destruction of four hundred-year-old heritage Chinese banyan wall trees in Bonham Road, Sai Ying Pun, on August 7.

The decision to cut them down was taken by the Highways Department and has divided public opinion. Officials took the decision because of the potential risk of collapse.

The government admits that felling these trees was regrettable, but says the decision was taken in the interests of public safety. Expert inspections had been arranged when another banyan wall tree at the same site had fallen onto Bonham Road on July 22 during a storm. New cracks were found, raising the possibility of another fall. After all, it is the responsibility of government to safeguard the public.

However, this argument has failed to appease critics of the decision to cut down the trees who are concerned with environmental protection. They have made the point that some experts felt the condition of the four wall trees was still acceptable and they did not pose an immediate danger to the public. These critics say this is another example of environmental destruction.

There are many trees along our roads and in our parks which are damaged or have even died because of poor maintenance by the government.

One of the problems is that the management of trees in Hong Kong is handled by branches of different departments, including the Highways Department. Sadly, these departments lack the professional knowledge needed for competent tree maintenance.

The establishment of a Tree Management Office shows that the government is trying to improve its tree maintenance record. But it must ensure that its overall maintenance policy is effective. There must be greater coordination between departments.

Hazel Kwok, Lam Tin