The government should improve its design for a section of a cycling track in the New Territories that will fall 3,284 trees, environmental group Green Sense has said.

The government suggested a plan in 2007-08 to connect bike routes in the east and west New Territories. The entire route will span around 82 kilometres when completed. Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said in his official blog on Sunday that the portion connecting Yuen Long and Sheung Shui will be completed in 2020.

The completed track from Sheung Shui to Ma On Shan. Photo: GovHK.

According to a proposal submitted by the Development Bureau to the Finance Committee in April, completing the section from Yuen Long to Sheung Shui will require chopping down 3,284 trees, including three rare and valuable banyan trees. There are 4,577 trees in the area, the proposal said.

The proposed cycling track. Photo: GovHK.

Green Sense said that chopping down so many trees is too big a price to pay for completing the cycling track. “The environmental cost is too great and is disproportional,” it said in a press release. It called on the government to reduce the number of trees it will chop down by improving the design of the track and its route, so that the construction would not turn into a “massacre of trees.”

The government will avoid cutting down trees in the track’s construction, according to the development bureau. Photo: GovHK.

Chan said in his blog post that the path taken by the track was planned according to the terrain to minimise the number of trees that will be cut down.

However, the environmental group said that this is merely “window dressing.” It previously suggested reducing the width of sections of the track to save trees, but the government did not seriously consider this option, it said.

According to the Bureau, the Tuen Mun to Yuen Long portion will be completed at the end of this year, while a section from Tsuen Wan to Tuen Mun is still in the planning stage. The Sam Mun Tsai section has been approved and is due to begin construction.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.