Wan Chai’s iconic tree planted by former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten to be removed due to public safety concern

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24th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) The deteriorating health of a Ficus benjamina tree situated on Johnston Road in Wan Chai, which was planted by former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten, has necessitated its removal due to potential risks it poses to the public. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has taken the decision to ensure public safety, despite the absence of an immediate danger of collapse. The removal is scheduled to take place this Saturday, the 27th of April.

The tree, which stands in Wan Chai, caught the attention of authorities when it exhibited abnormal leaf shedding and showed signs of possible fungal infection following the devastating impact of the typhoon in September of last year. Affixed to the trunk of the banyan tree, a notice from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department alerts passersby to the potential hazards associated with the tree’s condition.

According to an introductory plaque attached to the tree, it was personally planted by Chris Patten on January 13th, 1993, as part of the Wan Chai Greening Project. However, the once majestic banyan tree now appears lifeless, with no foliage remaining except for its bare trunk. So Kwok-yin, the Director of the Conservancy Association, expressed his belief that the tree’s situation is irreversible, as it rapidly transitioned from a healthy state to shedding leaves within a matter of months. The peeling bark further indicates the tree’s deteriorating condition, though the exact cause of its demise cannot be definitively attributed to poor management or maintenance oversights.