Native flora could make West Kowloon cultural park a showcase for biodiversity

We agree with your correspondents who said native flora is vital for the West Kowloon cultural park project.

There is a fantastic opportunity to create a park to improve inner-city biodiversity and to raise awareness and educate the public about indigenous plants and animals by providing a living green library of information for Hong Kong for generations to come.

A park with native woodland should be developed based on the expertise of a team of people who are passionate about local biodiversity.

As well as knowledgeable experts familiar with Hong Kong's natural indigenous flora and fauna such as horticulturalists, landscapers, and naturalists, these can include villagers familiar with local trees and other plants.

This whole process should be open to genuine public consultation, so the park really meets the desires of local people, playing a role in sustaining the vitality of Hong Kong - Asia's wild city. This would avoid falling into the trap of creating another "ecological project" that might prove profitable for consultants, but is just another poorly conceived, quick-fix green project pretending be "ecologically enhancing" while resulting in the reverse, with predominately non-native trees planted.

This huge area within the city creates a unique opportunity that may never occur again, so we must make sure we get it right first time. As Professor C. Y. Jim indicated ("Arts hub park should be true woodland, not second-rate parody", August 17), park planners can adopt the best ideas from many other beautifully landscaped parks and botanic gardens around the world, such as New York's Central Park and London's Kew Gardens, and create a world-class native flora park.

The most visually enchanting and invigorating parks have planting akin to that by renowned 18th-century landscape gardener "Capability" Brown. They are then allowed to evolve as close to nature's hand as possible.

This park offers a chance to bring into the centre floral features such as a native tree arboretum (the present one is isolated in Shing Mun Country Park) showcasing little-known, beautiful Hong Kong trees. This can be landscaped to replicate Hong Kong's countryside. Plus there is potential for a night scented garden and butterfly gardens.

These will in turn attract a wealth of wildlife, such as birds and butterflies, so that Hong Kong people can learn about and enjoy rich biodiversity in the heart of the city.

Paul Melsom, horticulturalist, Sharon Kwok, director, AquaMeridian Conservation and Education Foundation, Martin Williams, director, Hong Kong Outdoors

Appeared as: Culture park needs native flora, S China Morning Post letters 22 Sep 2013
 

Martin Williams
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A study on the influence of soil and vegetation on the urban climate shows how important it is that cities have open, unsealed land. A team of researchers in the northern German city of Hamburg recently launched the Hamburg Urban Soil Climate Observatory (HUSCO) project.
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The researchers found that moist soil cools down the surrounding air, considerably more so than dry ground. Specifically, throughout the year, temperatures are half a degree lower in a park than in the adjacent heavily built-up neighbourhood. "That means city parks have a huge significance for the local climate," Eschenbach says.

Local parks help cool down urban climate, German researchers find

 

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