The Taipei City Government yesterday detailed the progress of its tree restoration work in the wake of Typhoon Soudelor, saying that it had finished clearing felled or leaning trees on all 216 major road sections across the city.
The Parks and Street Lights Office yesterday trimmed and replanted a large Chinese plum tree felled by Soudelor in a park in an effort to demonstrate its restoration method.
Workers first sawed off a dozen limbs of various sizes, before restoring the tree to its upright position and reinforcing it with props.
Office official Kau Min-tien (高民典) said the agency assessed the structures of all the affected trees to determine which ones would be safe to try to save before carrying out the work.
Since the roots of many trees were damaged during the typhoon, larger branches measuring at least 3cm in width were removed to reduce the loss of water in the trees, thereby boosting their chances of survival.
Office Director Chang Yu-hui (張郁慧) said that as of yesterday, work to remove fallen branches and restore trees was still being conducted along 132 road sections where traffic was relatively light.
The city government has come under fire for what critics see as excessive trimming back of trees damaged by the storm.
Green Formosa Front standing director Lin Chang-mao (林長茂) said the reason so many trees in the city were felled by the storm — more than 20,000 — was that their planting pits were too narrow.
“If the planting pits are not improved, the restored trees will only fall over again,” he said.
National Chung Hsing University horticulture professor Liu Tung-chi (劉東啟) said it is the leaves of a tree, not its branches, that release water, and the only thing that needed to be done to minimize evaporation was to remove twigs and leaves, not entire branches.
Severing thick branches injures trees, and the tissue around the cuts might decay before the trees could recover, he said, adding that trees suffering such amputations might not be able to withstand more typhoons.
In related news, Public Works Department Commissioner Pong Cheng-sheng (彭振聲) said the city still has to clean up 224 parks and green spaces in the aftermath of the storm, adding that the work would be completed by Sunday if Typhoon Goni does not make landfall this week.
Asked whether the clean-up and restoration crews would be overwhelmed by the approaching typhoon, he said unless the winds brought by Goni are stronger than those seen during Soudelor, the trees that survived Soudelor would probably not be felled.
Additional reporting by Chen Wei-han
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