Chinese man, 96, who built home around an ancient tree fears for its future

Property owner says 300-year-old Chinese pagoda tree could be at risk under redevelopment plans

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 September, 2017, 2:53pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 September, 2017, 6:26pm

A 96-year-old man in northern China who built his home around an ancient tree more than 30 years ago fears his property might be demolished under a redevelopment programme, local media reported.

Jia Fulian, from Shijiazhuang in Hebei Province, said that after hearing about the local government’s plans to modernise some residential communities he became concerned that his beloved Chinese pagoda tree might be facing the axe, ChinaNews.com reported on Wednesday.

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He said he had calculated that the tree was probably planted about 300 years ago during the late Ming or early Qing dynasties.

“I love this tree and am very happy living here,” he said. “In my free time, I like to water it, clean the branches and watch over it. I take extra care of it before people come over to visit.”

The tree was originally a feature of Jia’s backyard, but by the time he came to rebuild his house in 1984, it had grown so much he decided to incorporate it into the design of the property. He said he now considered it part of his home, and regarded it as a companion.

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Despite Jia’s concerns for the tree’s future, in 2013 the government attached a plaque to it in recognition of its historical value.

And while the report did not provide any details of the government’s supposed proposals, it quoted Jia as saying that he hoped the tree would remain even if his neighbourhood was redeveloped.

“The local children are all fond of the tree and want to preserve it for the future,” he said. “So if my house is ever demolished, I would like it to be kept as part of a memorial garden.”