Hong Kong Struggles To Hold On To Its Roots

Hong Kong's oldest living resident, the banyan tree, once lined entire streets in the city and provided an iconic presence that many enjoyed and many felt classified as a nuisance. Now, due to urban expansion, only a cluster of twenty trees remain.

The banyan tree has a long, curious history in a city that seems to pride itself on the modern and on the cutting-edge. Native to various areas of Asia including Sri Lanka and India, the trees have a unique way of spreading by settling on the foliage of a host tree and growing downwards from the canopy until they are able to implant their lattice-shaped roots into the soil below. This unconventional method of spreading makes banyans especially hardy and adaptable to urban environments, and a reason why the trees were so ubiquitous in the streets of Hong Kong for centuries. Now, as the urban fabric of Hong Kong expands and sunlight becomes more scarce within rows of tall buildings, many of the iconic trees have been cut down or strangled by the cityscape.

"In March the Hong Kong government established the Tree Management Office to champion tree preservation. The department has promised 'a new holistic policy on greening, landscaping and tree management with a view to achieving the sustainable development of a greener environment for Hong Kong.' "

Full Story: Hong Kong's Trees a Survivor's Tale

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