“We want our trees back!” Protest and signature campaign
Which government department is in charge of trees in Hong Kong? From Lands to Leisure & Cultural Services, from Transport to Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation, and there is the Development Bureau too. When it comes to Old and Valuable Trees, the Antiquities & Monuments Office would also need to be involved.
It could easily prove to be a run-around.
Our government officials seem to find simply chopping down trees the easiest way out. While there are legitimate reasons at times for some trees to go, more often than not they are not replaced by new trees.
In 2009 alone, more than 21,000 trees were felled, and were replaced by just over 4,300 trees – a mere 20% !
The Old and Valuable Tree No. 31 outside St Andrew’s Church was felled recently, and the authorities have no plans to replant, claiming insufficient space.
Together with Old and Valuable Trees nos. 9 and 10, which were also removed previously along Nathan Road, we want them back. We demand at least new and healthy compensatory planting!
Other numerous examples include a sorrowful large tree stump that was left amid concrete in nearby Minden Row.
Chief Secretary Henry Tang, in his “Tree Tzar” tone 2 years ago, envisioned some integrated, overall tree management. Current guidelines say only trees removed by public works need to be replaced. Secretary for Development Carrie Lam has also long promised such guidelines would be changed.
Where is the CHANGE?
It is ironic to have the Development Bureau to run HK’s tree matters. Just look at the 1881 Heritage development – the number of trees on site was reduced from nearly 200 before to barely 23 after.
1. The government enacts a comprehensive tree ordinance – with saving, not felling trees as the chief goal.
2. No indiscriminate felling of trees in the name of “development”.
3. Sick or old trees that are getting the death penalty should have NGO experts as jurors to help verify the verdict.
4. All felled trees, especially Old and Valuable Trees, should have compensatory planting on the spot, or at least nearby.