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LCQ9: Environmental greening plans

     Following is a question by the Hon Wong Kwok-kin and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Mak Chai-kwong, in the Legislative Council today (July 11):


     In recent years, there has been growing concern about environmental greening plans in the local community.  The Government has also put forward a greening policy "striving to uplift the quality of our living environment through active planting, proper maintenance and preservation of trees together with other vegetation", and it is committed to implementing and developing greening master plans (GMPs).  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it knows the respective numbers of trees and shrubs which had been newly planted and removed in each of the 18 District Council districts (18 districts) in the past three years;

(b) of the details in implementing the respective GMP in each of the 18 districts at present;

(c) given that information from the Civil Engineering and Development Department reveals that different themes and subsequently the species of trees to be planted will be established for the GMP of each district, of the authorities' considerations in deciding on the themes;

(d) given that the authorities have devised short-term, medium-term and long-term proposals for each GMP, of the positions at present in implementing the short-term, medium-term and long-term proposals for the GMPs of various districts, and whether the original objectives set by the Government can be achieved; if not, of the reasons for that;

(e) given that some members of the public have reflected that although Bauhinia blakeana is the city flower of Hong Kong, it is not commonly seen in the city, whether the authorities keep statistics on the total number of Bauhinia blakeana trees planted throughout Hong Kong at present, with a breakdown of such figure by the 18 districts; of the places where Bauhinia blakeana trees are usually planted; if such information is not available, whether the authorities will keep record of it; and

(f) whether the authorities have plans in place at present to promote the planting of Bauhinia blakeana trees; if not, of the reasons for that?



(a) The respective numbers of newly planted trees and shrubs and the trees removed across in Hong Kong over the past three years are shown in the attached table 1.

     The trees were removed mainly because of health or structural problems, damage caused by inclement weather or the need to make way for works projects.  The Bureau does not maintain separate statistics on the number of plantings and shrub removal in different districts.

(b) The Bureau has been actively promoting greening over the years in order to improve air quality, mitigate the heat island effect and generally improve our living environment.  The development of district-based GMPs is one of the initiatives under our overall greening efforts.  A GMP provides a coherent, overarching greening framework, defined by a greening theme and a palette of plant species, to guide the planning, design and implementation of greening works in an area/district.  Please refer to the attached table 2 for the implementation of the urban GMPs.

     We are now formulating the NT GMPs.  The NTSE (covering Sha Tin and Sai Kung) and NTNW (covering Tuen Mun and Yuen Long) GMP studies commenced in May 2011.  It is expected that the GMPs of the concerned districts will be available in end 2013.  The NTNE (covering Tai Po and North District) and NTSW (covering Tsuen Wan, Kwai Tsing and Islands District) GMP studies commenced in February 2012, and the GMPs will be available in around mid 2014.  We will implement the greening works under GMPs, subject to the availability of funding under the established mechanism.

(c) To formulate the greening themes for the various districts, factors such as the characteristics of the districts, historical background, public's views and expectations, existing plant species and the future development of the districts will be considered.  For example, "Heart of Gold" is adopted as the theme for the GMP for Central to reflect this district's role as the financial centre of Hong Kong.  This theme is complemented by a range of plant species with golden, yellow, orange or red flowers and foliage.  Public engagement is a key process in the development and implementation of GMPs.  To ensure that the GMPs will meet the needs and aspirations of the local community, we adopt the Enhanced Partnering Approach whereby we closely involve the District Councils and the local communities in the development and implementation of the GMPs.

(d) We have completed the development of GMPs for all the 9 urban areas in 3 phases.  The 9 urban districts are Yau Tsim Mong, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon City, Wong Tai Sin, Kwun Tong, Wan Chai, Central and Western District, Southern District, and Eastern District.

     All the feasible short-term measures in the urban GMPs were completed in June 2011, a total of 24,890 trees and 5.13 million shrubs were planted.

     The urban GMPs cover greening measures to be implemented in the medium term and long term.  Medium-term measures are dependent on others' projects or require private participation.  As for long-term measures, they depict the ultimate greening vision and include proposals such as tree corridors along carriageways, widening of pavement, building setback etc. which can only be achieved in conjunction with urban renewal.

     The implementation of these measures involves many issues which are outside the control of the Government, e.g. cooperation of developers and owners of private properties, the pace of urban renewal and how to minimise the impact on the residents due to relocation of underground public utilities.  All these issues are difficult and complicated.  The Bureau started to follow up the medium and long-term measures developed in the first two phases of GMPs in 2011.  We have liaised and encouraged the organisations concerned to participate in implementing the feasible measures.  We will adopt a pragmatic attitude in liaising with the relevant parties for the feasibility of implementing the medium and long-term greening measures of the GMPs.

(e) Tree species under Bauhinia genus including Bauhinia blakeana (Hong Kong Orchid tree) is commonly used for greening works and adopted in many parks, open spaces and housing estates.  As this genus is not wind-resistant and its branches are easily broken by strong wind, it is not suitable for planting in windy spots.  It is usually planted together with other species of plants.  The Bureau does not have any statistics on Bauhinia genus including Bauhinia blakeana (Hong Kong Orchid tree).

(f) "Right-species-at-the-right-place" principle is adopted in selecting plant species.  Landscape design takes into account factors like concept of the design, theme, functions, environmental factors, etc. to achieve the desired greening and design effect.  The characteristics and growing condition for a particular plant also need to be considered.  For instance, wind-resistant species, such as Thespesia populnea and Terminalia mantaly, are planted along waterfronts.  As Bauhinia genus is susceptible to strong wind, there is no plan to grow this genus or Bauhinia blakeana extensively in Hong Kong at the moment.

Ends/Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:13


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