Grannie Green Revivial

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Chp 124, Wall trees at Lung Chu Street Nulluh – Forty years champion for the environment

Wall trees at Lung Chu Street Nullah

The open nullah at Lung Chu Street (龍珠街) has been a regular nuisance to residents due to the occasional bad smell. The Drainage Services Department (DSD) had agreed with the Sham Shui Po District Council to cover the nullah and to remove the odour once and for all. Except that there were mature trees along the stone walls of the nullah, which had to be felled as a result.

In CA’s view, the wall trees had significant ecological and cultural values, and removing them would be a great loss to Hong Kong. To cover the nullah is an incomplete way of resolving the odour problem; the right way should have been to remove illegal dumping of polluted water. CA’s green ribbon campaign struck on 20 March 2006 to urge the Drainage Services Department to withdraw the tree felling plan. As CA stressed in its statement, “the only way of tackling the problem of odour is to clean up the source of pollution, not to cover it and pretend that the pollution is solved.”

There were then more than 20 wall trees along the nullah, most of them being Chinese Banyan and Common Red-stem fig. All of them were mature trees with a height between 3 to 11 metres high. In particular, the group of Common Red-stem figs was considered unique as the majority of wall trees in Hong Kong are Chinese Banyan. There are no other sites with a dozen Common Red-stem fig trees in one location with buttress roots adapted to the condition of the masonry walls. The nullah was, therefore, a scene with special scientific value for further study. Besides, the trees formed a green canopy and functioned as a green lung for the community, reducing the heat island effect. As to the nullah itself, it was located in the area of Tai Hang (Big Nullah) and was the only remaining open nullah. As such it has a symbolic meaning locally and historically. CA also found several species of birds on the trees along the nullah, for example, yellow wagtail and white wagtail.

On the same day, CA wrote to the District Council to seek their understanding and support. To try to reverse a District Council decision was thought to be monumentally difficult, but CA’s perseverance paid off, as some councilors began to symphathise with preservation. After further negotiations, DSD agreed at a meeting on 28 April 2006 that it was possible not to completely deck over the nullah and hence to preserve some of the trees.

On 16 June 2006, at a tripartite meeting among CA, the District Council and DSD, a compromise solution was agreed under which 8 of the wall trees would be preserved, and the area around the open nullah would be enhanced to become a public space. The District Council and the DSD were commended by CA for the open and cooperative manner in finding a sustainable solution that benefit the community in the long term.

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August 13, 2015 - Posted by | conservation, Dr WK Chan book

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