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Hong Kong environmental issues

Road accidents in Hong Kong kill more people than do falling trees: cutting them down is the easy way out

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 June, 2018, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 25 June, 2018, 7:00pm

I refer to Dr Wong Hong-yau’s letter (“Hong Kong’s old trees are cut down with good reason, but the people need to know it”, June 10) and would like to make the following remarks, based on my 20 years of living on the southern side of Hong Kong Island.

To reduce the issue of tree felling to only a matter of antagonism between the “responsible” people (that is, the government departments) and the “non government” (that is, probably “irresponsible”) associations and the general public is inappropriate.

On so many occasions, the “responsible people” or “experts” were proven wrong.

In a city like Hong Kong where concrete is king, it is vital that trees are given maximum protection: they not only improve the landscape but also generate oxygen, reduce pollution and offer cool shade when the temperature rises.

To “kill” a mature tree takes minutes with a chainsaw, but how many decades are needed to see a new tree reach the same size?

Why removing two old banyan trees in Hong Kong touched a nerve

The argument about the danger caused by trees falling occasionally is rather weak: how many people in the last 50 years have been injured or killed by a falling tree, and how many killed in road accidents, or by one of those signboards dangling above our heads?

In the name of safety, should we fell all trees, or should we ban cars?

It is easier for a bureaucrat to have the trees cut: the trees may pose a danger; trees cannot defend themselves. I have in mind especially an old and splendid flame tree that was growing in the middle of Wong Chuk Hang Road, near the petrol station. Last year, a typhoon broke one of its branches, the following day, the tree was gone. So many others along the South Island Road, Wong Chuk Hang and Stanley have simply vanished and not been replaced.

In a city like Hong Kong where pollution is definitely an issue, trees are of paramount importance and the management of its stock should be a concern for everyone. Considering the way trees are treated, I think we have a problem.

Francois Moirez, Stanley