Debate continues after two decades-old ‘stone wall’ banyan trees were felled by authorities in Central and Western district earlier this week, with experts casting doubt on the assessment of their viability.
The Lands Department on Sunday brought the axe down on the two trees located along Bonham Road in Mid-Levels, right beside the entrance of Tang Chi Ngong Building of the University of Hong Kong.
The department said the trees were a public safety risk as they were in poor health and took up a considerable amount of space on the footpath, wrote on.cc.
According the Hong Kong Economic Journal, a document submitted to the Central and Western district council stated that one tree was rotten inside its trunk while another suffered from fungal infections.
The move, however, was opposed by activists, some of whom protested while workers chopped down the more than 80-years-old trees.
Lending support to protesters, retired professor from Chinese University, Chiu Siu-wai, called into question the assessment used to justify the removal.
According to RTHK, Chiu, a professor at the university’s Life Science Department, criticized the government’s use of a visual inspection to write-off the trees as unsafe.
Calling their judgement “poor”, she said authorities should have used instruments to determine more precisely their condition.
Similar criticism was levelled by Ken So, a member of the Old and Valuable Tree Expert Group of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
According to The Standard, on Monday, So said that he had read the tree roots assessment report submitted to the district council.
“It just said that there is some cracks on the structure but it [didn’t say] that it was due the tree leaning on it,” he said.
So said there should be more evidence and facts before a tree is cut down, the newspaper reported.
Following the trees removal, Treeshkwest, a Facebook group dedicating to preserving trees in Hong Kong island, released a petition calling for people to support the conservation efforts.