Hong Kong has removed many of its heritage trees in the past eight years due to typhoons and disease (the government’s definition of natural causes). Even with these removals, many trees are still failing and causing accidents. In August 2008 a coral tree that had a fungal infection fell in Stanley Market and killed a schoolgirl. In July 2012 another diseased heritage tree fell over in Park Lane Shopper’s Boulevard and injured five pedestrians.
The tree that fell in Park Lane Shopper’s Boulevard had brown root rot, and many other trees in the city are also becoming infected. The source of the infection is believed to be a dying banyan tree in Kowloon Park, and the spread of the disease has been through the air and the soil. Guidelines show that a tree infected with brown root rot should be burned and the soil replaced to keep the disease from spreading. Unfortunately, these guidelines aren’t adhered to for each tree that is being removed, and many believe this government negligence is increasing the problem.
Thirteen new trees have been added to the heritage list in the past few years to make up for the losses. The government lists heritage trees as old and valuable with the truck diameter greater than one meter, be of a rare species, be more than 100 years old, be of cultural or historical significance, or have an outstanding form.