Green Sense Open Letter to the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services regarding Illegal Pruning at the Egretry in Kwong Fuk Rd., Tai Po
Ms. LI Mei Sheung, Michelle, JP
Diector of Leisure & Cultural Services
Leisure and Cultural Services Department
Dear Ms Li,
Re: Illegal pruning at the egretry in Kwong Fuk Road, Tai Po, and
subsequent destruction of nests and killing of wild birds
On 6th June, 2017, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) carried out a tree pruning operation at the junction of Kwong Fuk Road and Wan Tau Kok Lane, during which multiple wild egrets and herons were injured or killed and their nests and eggs destroyed.
Appallingly, pruning staff continued to trim the trees, despite being aware of the damage caused by the operation. We, along with the majority of the public, strongly condemn this act of cold-bloodedness and cruelty.
The pruning operation, in addition to being rather illogical, raises concern in public issues including public resources utilization, tree management and animal protection laws. Hence, we demand detailed responses from the LCSD to the following:
- Did the LCSD carry out any operation in response to ‘a request from the public referred by a relevant government department seeking the trimming of overgrown tree branches at the junction of Kwong Fuk Road and Wan Tau Kok Lane in Tai Po’, as reported by various media? If so, which government department or district council member had made the referral? In addition to ‘overgrown branches’, did the complaint referred by the department or district council member concern also bird droppings, etc?
- Before its decision to respond to the referred request, did the LCSD engage qualified aboriculturalists to conduct an independent tree risk assessment, or ecology experts to conduct ecological impact assessments of procedures in the operation? If so, I urge the LCSD to immediately make public the full texts of these reports. If not, please explain the reasons for not conducting said assessments before tree trimming.
- Was the pruning operation carried out by a contractor, or solely by the LCSD New Territories East Tree Team?
What were the name and rank of the government officer who authorized the operation?
- Are the authorizing officer and pruning staff qualified in aboriculture? Before the operation, did the LCSD consult or inform the Tree Management Office (TMO) of the Development Bureau, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), and other related departments, as per usual practice?
- The LCSD should be aware that the concerned woodland is adjacent to the Tai Po Egretry, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) located at Kwong Fuk Road, Tai Po Market, and that it has been a breeding ground for egrets for years. Even if the LCSD was unaware of this, it could easily deduce, during on-site assessments before pruning, that the woodland was a home to birds, evident from bird droppings on branches and the ground beneath the trees. Why, then, did the LCSD nevertheless go on with the tree pruning operation, threatening the safety of the birds at the site?
- Suppose that pruning staff did not notice bird nests on the trees before pruning. What actions did the person-in-charge take, then, when the staff noticed hatchlings, eggs and damaged nests falling from the trees during the operation? Why did the LCSD continue with the operation, neglecting the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170), which states, in Section 4, that ‘no person shall, except in accordance with a special permit, hunt or wilfully disturb any protected wild animal’, and in Section 5, that ‘no person shall, except in accordance with a special permit, take, remove, injure, destroy or wilfully disturb a nest or egg of any protected wild animal’?
- Does the LCSD admit that it has committed a criminal offence against the aforementioned Wild Animals Protection Ordinance?
Due to the seriousness of the matter, please give, in details, an account of the incident and responses to the above questions by 9th June (Friday).
Roy Tam Hoi-pong
Chief Executive (Voluntary), Green SenseComments