Fri, Jan 11, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Tree lovers call for legal protection for six Kaohsiung trees

By Su Fu-nan and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Chuang Chieh-jen on Tuesday in Kaohsiung holds up a photograph of the centenarian monkeypod tree behind him before it was trimmed.

Photo: Su Fu-nan, Taipei Times

A group of tree lovers in Kaohsiung on Tuesday called for legal protection of six trees in Ciaotou District’s (橋頭) Mingde New Village (明德新村) after local residents allegedly removed the crowns of some of the trees.

Five of the trees are centenarian monkeypod trees, while the sixth is a banyan tree, group leader Chuang Chieh-jen (莊傑任) said.

Local residents improperly trimmed the monkeypod trees, he said.

Two of the monkeypod trees were improperly trimmed three years ago, but at least still have branches, he added.

Two other monkeypod trees, each originally more than 20m tall, had their crowns removed more recently, Chuang said, adding that they are now only 3m tall.

The treatment of the trees is “cruel,” he said.

Only one monkeypod tree in the village has kept its shape, he added.

The village served as housing for Japanese colonial era government officials, who planted an entire row of monkeypod trees in front of the community’s entrance, Chuang said.

After the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government took over the village, it converted it into a military dependents’ village, he said.

In 2009, then-Kaohsiung County commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) attempted to register the five monkeypod trees as “precious old trees,” which would have provided them legal protection, Chuang said.

However, the Ministry of National Defense, which administers the village, rejected the proposal, citing the potential sale of the land, he said.

The group said that it has filed an application with the Kaohsiung Agriculture Bureau for the six trees to be legally protected.

The bureau was on Wednesday scheduled to survey the trees.

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