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本會主席鄧淑明博士撰文闡釋「世界地球日」的意義

更新日期: 20/4/2018


「世界地球日」以宣揚環保,愛護地球環境為主題,全球不少國家都會在該日以不同類型的活動響應。本會主席鄧淑明博士於報章撰文,闡明「世界地球日」的意義,呼籲大眾減少污染,保護地球資源。


報章內容


保護地球 兒童做先鋒 (am730)


9歲的時候你在做甚麼? 80多年後的2100年你又會在哪裡?2007年,九歲的德國小學生Felix 要做專題研習,題目是氣候變化,結果他受到啟發,往後成立了一個全球的「為地球植樹」(Plant-for-the-Planet)組織,最初的目標是全球每國都種植100萬棵樹,以抵銷二氧化碳排放。


小學生發起的全球植樹運動


這是受非洲生物學家兼諾貝爾和平獎得主Wangari Muta Maathai所啟發。Maathai教授發起改善農村婦女就業和促進環境保護的「綠帶運動」,自1977年起,三十年來成功在非洲栽種了超過3,000萬棵樹。


Felix把他的植樹理念向同學和校長講述,並獲准在校園種植第一棵樹,傳媒深感興趣,爭相報導,之後Felix被委任為聯合國環境規劃署少年董事會成員,在歐洲議會,和挪威、南韓、美國等聯合國會議也有他戴著圓圓的哈利波特式眼鏡、口齒伶俐地演說的蹤影。


「為甚麼大人只說不做?」


小Felix認為,大人都知道氣候變化問題,但往往只說不做(他們有個宣傳活動叫”Stop talking. Start planting”,邀請政商演藝界著名的大人參與,如影星夏里遜福和當時的摩納哥阿爾拔王子),原因可能在大人眼中,「未來」是個抽象概念,但對今天的孩童來說,到2100年,他們可能仍然生存在世。因此,兒童要為自己的未來努力,而植樹是最廣受認同的活動。


你也許都參加過植樹活動,但對緩減氣候變化有多大效用?地球現在有多少棵樹?要再種植多少才可抵銷不斷的砍伐?這一條問題「考起」了不少科學家。


耶魯大學的研究員Tom Crowther 花了兩年研究,在2015年於學術期刊《自然》上發表結果,原來全球有30,000億棵樹,是先前估計的七倍,但比萬多年前農耕活動剛開始時,減少了近半。現在樹木損失的速度是每年100億棵,因此,每年種100萬甚至10億棵樹也無補於事。


世界植樹電子地圖


Felix 沒有氣餒,他和全球六萬多個年齡介乎9至12歲的兒童大使反而決定把行動升級,將目標訂在種植10,000億(「1」後有12個「0」)棵樹,每年便可為地球吸收100億噸二氧化碳,即人類每年產生碳排放量的四分一。他們努力聯絡各國富豪、政府和企業,爭取資源;同時也努力把種植計劃科學化,這令他和Esri 總裁Jack Dangermond 結緣。


Esri 是全球50大軟件公司之一,專營地理資訊系統(GlS)軟件。現年73歲的Jack非常欣賞和認同Felix 的理念,於是兩個年紀相距半百的一老一小,攜手打造一個全球植樹電子地圖平台,開放給所有植樹組織上載數據,藉著GIS軟件擅長綜合多重資訊、強於圖像化分析的特點,有助全球植樹的規劃,例如不同地方應該栽種甚麼樹和優先次序,這牽涉氣候、土壤、地勢、環境、物種、人口、土地運用等多個因素。


過度伐木和採摘肇禍


不過,話說回來,其實我們大人也不全是袖手旁觀,例如四月廿二日舉行的「世界地球日」便以宣揚環保,愛護地球為主題,全球不少國家每年都在該日以不同類型活動響應。


它源於70年代美國,當時一群熱心人士眼見地球污染日盛,生態環境備受破壞,便發動大規模保護地球運動,呼籲大眾減少污染,結果一呼百應,獲得世界各地支持。


其實破壞生態環境除了大量伐木外,被人過度採摘也會造成滅種危機。蘭花色澤多樣、形態優美,但部分野生品種如拖鞋蘭已瀕臨滅絕。同時,自然界內有蜂類需靠蘭花的花粉繁殖,蘭花減少,那些蜂類也會數量大減。


土沉香因其樹脂藥用價值高,被視為珍品,因此經常被人非法砍伐,最近中文大學也有一棵60年沉香樹慘遭斬下,令人惋惜。香港本來遍地沉香,卻因為非法砍伐嚴重,數量銳減,現在野生土沉香幾近在香港絕跡。


愛護地球由我做起


香港雖然是彈丸之地,卻孕育了不少物種,單是開花植物便有近 3,000 種,香港人應引以為傲。然而若大家不懂珍惜及尊重自然生態,物種只會相繼消失。


環護教育基金會的「樹e護計劃」便以年輕人為對象,教導他們樹木知識,讓他們愛護樹木之餘,也了解四周的生態環境,從而培養愛護地球的觀念。保護自然生態需攜手努力,雖然一般香港市民難以自行覓地種樹,但我們一樣可以多愛惜大自然,為保護地球出一分力。


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本會主席鄧淑明博士撰文闡釋塑膠廢物對海洋的影響

更新日期: 8/6/2018


泰國南部一條死去的領航鯨體內,竟發現塞滿了80個塑膠袋,事件令人再次關注塑膠污染的問題。塑膠垃圾為香港主要廢物成分之一,本會主席鄧淑明博士於信報財經新聞撰文,呼籲市民響應「減塑行動」,以降低對環境造成的傷害。


報章內容


鯨魚吃膠亡 減塑豈容拖 (信報財經新聞, StartUpBeat)


本月初泰國南部一條死去的領航鯨體內,竟發現塞滿了80多個塑膠袋,這則新聞使人神傷,也令人再次關注海洋污染的問題。


市場調查機構Euromonitor指出,2016年全球共賣出4800億瓶膠樽飲料,平均每分鐘售出逾90萬瓶。雖然塑膠在世界通行只是近70年的事,但膠樽要回歸大自然卻要花400多年。


美國國家生態分析和綜合中心(NCEAS)和喬治亞大學於2015年調查了192個沿海國家,研究發現,每年估計有近1000萬噸塑膠垃圾流入大海,而20個源頭地區中,亞洲國家佔去13個,中國是其中一個。


全球都想方設法去解決這個大議題。首先,如何處理累積多時的海洋垃圾?一位荷蘭學生發起並於2013年成立的非牟利組織「海洋清潔計劃」(The Ocean Cleanup),提到垃圾會集中在全球五大環流中,但要逐一撿拾極之費時。該會集合70多位工程師、研究員、科學家和電腦模型人員,以先進科技設計出一個漂流牆,隨波逐流,它會把垃圾網住,估計5年內可清理海洋一半垃圾,過去兩年已在北海成功實驗過。


支持這個行動的不分老幼。一群在奧地利的12歲學生在老師的鼓勵下,啟動「兒童救海洋」(Kids Save Ocean)行動。他們將於月底在聯合國會議上和數以百計的兒童共商大計,也打算以眾籌為The Ocean Cleanup募集300萬美元經費,志氣不小。


此外,「按樽」亦是源頭減廢的方法。挪威早於1972年已有膠樽回收機,按容量計費,回收機分布在超市和學校,當地的膠樽回收率高逾九成。


同時,科學家也研究以生物吃掉塑膠。早前日本有研究指細菌可以分解塑膠,不過速度緩慢。今年5月在期刊《環境科學和科技》中提到,史丹福大學學生Anja Brandon,發現黃粉蟲可以吃掉塑料,一個月大概消耗0.87克,數字似乎微不足道,卻不失為一條出路。 塑膠垃圾也是香港主要的廢物成分之一,2016年香港固體垃圾數字顯示,香港人每日平均塑料廢物量超過2000噸,佔廢物總數逾兩成。


其實很多廢物本身仍有價值,環護教育基金會「樹e護計劃」早前為小朋友免費舉辦的「紙種植物」工作坊,把廢紙攪碎的紙漿讓種子發芽生長,希望把珍惜資源這個價值在年輕人心中埋下種子,長大後會為世界的可持續發展出一分力。


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本會主席鄧淑明博士撰文呼籲市民重視回收再造

更新日期: 9/4/2018


香港的垃圾問題非常嚴峻,政府可以考慮仿傚台灣、南韓和日本等國家的造法,積極推行回收再造,並鼓勵市民源頭減廢,本會主席鄧淑明博士於香港聯合國教科文之友電子會訊撰文,呼籲市民重視回收再造,善用資源,減少浪費。


撰文內容:


效法台日韓的廢物管理方案 ( 香港聯合國教科文之友電子會訊)


香港在垃圾處理上實在遠遠不及許多廢物管理發達的國家,2015年日本每天人均產生的都市固體廢物為0.96公斤,英國是1.33公斤,芬蘭為1.32公斤,但香港則達1.39公斤,2016年更攀升至1.41公斤,創23年的新高。


垃圾問題困擾現代人,因此許多地方都不約而同倡議3R(即是Reduce,減少使用;Reuse,物盡其用;Recycle,循環再造),就是提倡廢物分類和回收,鼓勵市民減少浪費。


日本:高效廢物回收


例如日本人著重包裝,故此產生不少垃圾,所以日本人特別重視回收。日本政府也嚴格執行垃圾分類,當地垃圾大致分為可燃燒類(如廚餘及木片)、不可燃燒類(如玻璃、陶瓷及金屬)及循環可再生類(膠樽及廢紙);分類之外,還有不同的收集時間及數量限制。而市民都嚴格遵守,結果2016年日本的膠樽回收率便高達84%,鋁罐的回收量更高逾九成。其中德島縣的上勝町垃圾分類雖然多達34種,總垃圾的回收率卻達八成,成績驕人,現在它更朝著「零垃圾」的目標邁進。


台灣:廢塑料造球衣


至於台灣,它的廢物回收率也相當彪炳,高達58%,回收物再用率也很理想,這建基於自2001年施行的完善垃圾分類政策,當地政府規定市民棄置垃圾之前必須分為三大類,包括(一)可循環再造廢物,當中再細分為平面類(如紙張、清潔膠袋),立體類(如金屬罐和電腦設備),以及其他種類(如電池);(二)廚餘;(三)大型廢物(如床墊)等。不按規定者,不但垃圾會被拒收,罰款更可達新台幣6,000元(1,500港元)。


台灣人重視回收,更善用回收物再造,在2014年世界盃足球賽,便有台商利用回收得來的廢棄塑料,造成環保塑膠材料(PET),為全球10支球隊製造球衣,大獲讚賞。2016年台灣棄置的電器及通訊用品經處理後所抽取出來的金屬物質,可再用率超過八成,而從廢容器所產生的再生用料的價值更可達新台幣32億元(8.5億港元)。回收資源已成為台灣人其中一個寳庫。


南韓:科技助收廚餘


南韓則以垃圾分類,應對堆填區短缺和市民反對焚化爐擴建計劃的問題。1995年開始,首爾規定住戶須以預繳垃圾袋盛載廢物,並按量收費。家居廢物分為四大類,包括可循環再造廢物(即包裝廢物,如紙盒、玻璃樽及發泡膠等;廢棄產品,如電子產品;其他可回收物品如報紙、廢鐵及衣物等),以及廚餘、大型廢物和不能循環再造的廢物等。


其中也用上資訊科技,例如廚餘會發出異味,居民便要先做好分類處理,之後放入設於住宅大廈公共範圍內、附有無線射頻識別(RFID)的收集箱,它可記錄按重量收費的詳情。這種收集箱每個成本約為170萬韓圜(萬多港元),一個收集箱可應付60個住戶的需要。 結果,首爾的人均家居廢物量在20年間下跌近三成,由1995年的1.3公斤,下降至2014年不足一公斤;而包含廚餘的循環再造率在2014年更達到67%,是廿年前的三倍多。


廢物也有價值


回到香港,我們的垃圾問題已非常嚴竣,源頭減廢和回收再用是積極之道。近日看到有年青人構思利用街市收集回來的豆渣,製造豆渣饅頭,並打算變成一盤生意,不理生意如何,他們帶出「物盡其用」的精神,值得嘉許。


其實很多被棄掉的廢物本身仍有價值,只要花些心思,便可變成有用之物,環護教育基金會「樹e護計劃」早前舉辦的免費「紙種植物」工作坊,正是介紹大家利用廢紙攪碎成紙漿,代替泥土,有助種子發芽生長,證明廢紙也甚有價值,參加的大小朋友都上了實用又環保的一課。


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Waste management solutions revisit (Friends of UNESCO HK e-Newsletter)


Hong Kong is lagging behind when compared with other developed places in waste management – for example, in 2015, Japan generated 0.96 kg municipal solid waste per capita per day, while 1.33 kg in the United Kingdom and 1.32 kg in Finland. What about Hong Kong? We produced up to 1.39 kg in 2015 and 1.41 in the following year, the highest in 23 years.


Garbage problem bothers people in the modern cities. Therefore, many places invariably advocate 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) to promote waste separation and recycling, and encourage citizens to reduce wastage.


Japan: Effective waste recycling


For example, the Japanese emphasize on packaging which results in a lot of garbage. They stress recycling to solve this problem. The Japanese government strictly enforces the garbage classification. The local garbage can be divided into combustible (such as kitchen waste and wood chips), non-combustible (such as glass, ceramics and metals) and recyclable (plastic bottles and waste paper). In addition, there are different collection time and quantity limits for the public to follow strictly.


As a result, the plastic bottle recycling rate in Japan was as high as 84% in 2016, while the recycle of aluminium cans exceeded 90%. Among them, in Kamikatsu-cho, Tokushima, garbage have been classified into 34 types with a total rubbish recycling rate reaching 80%, it is impressive. Now, it is moving towards the goal of “zero waste”.


Taiwan: Discarded plastic turns into jersey


As for Taiwan, its waste recycling rate is also extraordinary, up to 58%, and the usage rate of recyclables is also very satisfactory. This is due to the garbage classification policy implemented since 2001. The local government requires citizens to separate the garbage according to three categories before disposal, including (1) recyclable wastes, which are subdivided into flat type (such as paper and plastic bag), three-dimensional (such as metal cans and computer equipment), and others (such as batteries); (2) food wastes ; (3) large wastes (such as mattresses). People who do not follow the rules are subject to a fine of NT$6,000 (HK$1,500).


The Taiwanese stress the importance of recycling and they make full use of recyclables. In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, some Taiwanese businessmen use recycled plastics to create environmentally friendly plastic materials (PET) for producing jerseys of 10 national teams, it was highly appreciated. In 2016, over 80% of the reclaimed metal from Taiwan’s disposal of electrical appliances and communications products had been reused. With the value of recycled materials generated from disposed containers reaching NT$3.2 billion (HK$850 million), recycled resource has become one of the Taiwanese treasures.


South Korea: Collecting food waste with IT


South Korea copes with the shortage of landfills and the public’s objection to the planned expansion of incinerator by the garbage classification. Since 1995, Seoul has stipulated that households should use the pre-paid garbage bags for disposal, and charged them according to the weight of garbage. Household waste is divided into four major categories, including recyclable waste (i.e. packaging waste such as paper boxes, glass bottles and Styrofoam; waste products such as electronic products; other recyclable items such as newspapers, scrap iron and clothing, etc.), food waste, large waste and residual waste.


Information technology is also used. For example, food waste and smell-inducing organic waste became a concern as they emit an odor. Residents are required to sort them according to the government guidelines before storing them in a container with radio frequency identification (RFID) in the common area of the residential buildings. The container records the weight-based billing details. Each container costs about 1.7 million won (HK$10,000) each, and can cater for the needs of 60 households.


As a result, the volume of household waste per capita in Seoul dropped nearly 30% in 20 years from 1.3 kg in 1995 to less than 1 kg in 2014; while the recycle rate including food waste reached 67% in 2014, which was three times of that 20 years ago.


Waste can be valuable


Back to Hong Kong, our garbage problem is very serious, reducing waste at the source and recycling are positive approach. Recently, some young people brought up an idea to use soya bean dregs collected from wet markets to make steam bread. They intended to turn it into a business. No matter whether it will be a success or not, the “Waste No Food” spirit is highly appraised.


In fact, many of the wastes are still valuable. With some creative ideas, they can turn out to be very useful. Earlier, the Conservation E3 Foundation has conducted free Paper Planting Plants workshop. Part of the Tree Adoption Program, the instructor introduced using pulp generated from waste paper to replace soil, and help seed germination and growth. It proved that waste paper is also valuable. The adults and the children attended have learned a practical and environmental friendly lesson.


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本會主席鄧淑明博士撰文呼籲愛護地球環境

更新日期: 27/3/2018


一名小學生因為一次有關氣候變化的專題研習,從而得到啟發,成立了一個名為「為地球植樹」國際組織,目的是呼籲全球各地共同種植樹木,以抵銷二氧化碳的排放,改善地球環境污染的情況,本會主席鄧淑明博士以小學生的故事撰文,闡明任何人士都可以參與環保工作, 共同愛護地球環境。


報章內容


Kids teach adults how to protect the earth (ejinsight)


What were you doing when you were nine years old? Where would you be in 2100?


In 2007, Felix Finkbeiner, a 9-year-old primary four student in Germany, had to do a project on climate change. He eventually found the inspiration to launch a global movement called Plant for the Planet. Its initial target was to plant one million trees in each country to offset C02 emissions.


Felix was inspired by Wangari Muta Maathai, an African biologist and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Professor Maathai founded Kenya’s Green Belt Movement to improve the employment opportunities of women in rural areas and promote environmental protection. Since 1977, more than 30 million trees have been planted in Africa over 30 years under the movement.


Felix explained his idea of planting one million trees to his classmates and the school principal. He planted his first tree on the school campus. The media loved his idea and eagerly reported his story.


In the following year, Felix became a junior board member of the United Nations Environment Programme. And over the past ten years, he had given speeches before the European Parliament and in UN conferences in Norway, South Korea, the United States and many other countries.


Felix believes that adults are aware of the challenge of climate change, but they often talk and seldom act. And so the Plant for the Planet movement launched a campaign called “Stop talking. Start planting” to spread the message that talking alone will not achieve anything and now is the time for action. (Posters for the campaign show kids holding their hand over the mouth of famous adults from the political, commercial, and entertainment spheres, including actor Harrison Ford and Prince Albert of Monaco.)


The “future” is an academic question to adults, but for today’s children, 2100 is still within their lifetime. They want to take the future into their own hands, and planting trees is one concrete action they are taking.


How many trees?


You may have participated in a tree planting activity, but how effective is it in easing climate change? How many trees are there at present? How many more shall we need to plant to offset the deforestation around the world and make a difference? These questions challenge many scientists.


Tom Crowther, a researcher at Yale University spent two years studying the topic and published the results in the academic journal Nature in 2015. It turns out that there are three trillion trees in the world, which is seven times previous estimates. But that’s only half of the number 12,000 years ago when farming activities just started. We are losing trees at a rate of 10 billion a year. As such, planting one million or even one billion trees a year may not be of much help.


Surprisingly, Felix was not discouraged. Instead, he and over 60,000 ambassadors aged 9 to 12 worldwide decided to scale up their plan and set a target of planting one trillion (That’s 1 followed by 12 zeros) trees each year. The trees can absorb 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year, which is about a quarter of the carbon emissions we produce a year.


The young members of the movement worked hard to contact billionaires, governments, and companies from various countries to raise resources. At the same time, they strived to make their planting activities more scientific. This led Felix to connect with Jack Dangermond, president of Esri.


Esri is one of the 50 largest software companies in the world and is specializing in geographic information system (GlS) software. The 73-year-old Dangermond appreciated Felix’s philosophy and what his movement is trying to do. And so the old man and the kid, with an age gap of over 50 years, worked together to build a global tree planting electronic map platform, which is now open to all tree-planting organizations for uploading data.


Riding on its unique features of consolidating multiple layers of information to visualize analysis results, the GIS software helps in the planning of the global tree planting. On the GIS platform, the type of tree and sequence of planting in different places under various climate, soil, topography, environment, urbanization, and land use are detailed.


Serious felling, excessive harvesting


Adults, of course, are doing their bit in fighting global warming. Earth Day, which is celebrated on the 22nd of April every year, is an event promoting environmental protection. Many countries around the world hold different types of activities on that day to lend support to the initiative.


The annual event began in the United States in the 1970s. A group of concerned individuals recognized the pollution of our planet and its threat to our fragile ecological environment. And so they launched a large-scale campaign to protect the earth and sought to increase public awareness of the growing threat of pollution. The result was swift support from all over the world.


In fact, apart from deforestation, over-harvesting also causes the extinction of species. The beautiful orchids are diverse in color, but some wild species such as slipper orchids are on the verge of extinction. At the same time, certain bees rely on the pollen of a particular type of orchid to reproduce. When this type of orchid decreases in number, the type of bees depending on their pollen will also decrease.


Incense tree has high medicinal value, and thus is considered a treasure. Unfortunately, it is often illegally felled by poachers. Country parks in Hong Kong are said to be almost stripped bare of these rare trees. Recently, a 60-year incense tree at the Chinese University of Hong Kong was cut down. Hong Kong was once covered with these trees, but due to serious illegal felling, their number has dropped sharply. Now the natural stock is near extinction in Hong Kong.


Hong Kong may be small in size, but it nurtures many species. We have nearly 3,000 species of flowering plants which should be our pride. However, if people do not treasure and respect ecology, these species will disappear one after another.


The Conservation E3 Foundation’s Tree Adoption Program teaches young people about trees. It helps them to cultivate a caring attitude towards nature and our planet. Although it is generally difficult for the Hong Kong people to plant trees on their own, we can cherish nature and do our bit in saving our only home.


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本會主席鄧淑明博士撰文呼籲市民物盡其用

更新日期: 2/3/2018


世界資源短缺,如果大家能夠物盡其用,一方面可延緩資源的耗損,另一方面可以減少垃圾。本會主席鄧淑明博士於報章撰文,介紹韓國及台灣兩地如何物盡其用,重視回收再造,希望香港能夠借鏡,以改善垃圾問題。


報章內容


共度綠色新一年 (am730)


農曆新年期間,不少商場、屋邨或市民的家中都會擺放各種節日布置來增添節日的喜慶氣氛,當中更少不了年桔和桃花等應節植物。然而,在佳節過後,大家又會如何處置這些節日植物呢?


環境局近年積極處理「園林廢物」問題,提出從源頭減廢及回收再造兩大方向。例如以往農曆新年過後,有為數不少的年桔被棄置,近年房屋署於各公共屋邨推行年桔回收再植計劃,屋邨內設有年桔收集處,質素好的年桔會挑選出來於邨內繼續種植。


香港人均廢物量創新高


同時,環境保護署亦舉辦桃花回收活動,市民或商店可以在指定時間,將要棄置的桃花交到區內的桃花回收站,然後會加工造成木煤作再生燃料或園藝用肥料。在2016年,當局便收集了合共超過14,000棵桃花及年桔。


不過,香港在垃圾處理上實在遠遠不及許多廢物管理發達的國家,2015年日本每天人均產生的都市固體廢物為0.96公斤,英國是1.33公斤,芬蘭為1.32公斤,但香港則達1.39公斤,2016年更攀升至1.41公斤,創23年的新高。


垃圾問題困擾現代人,因此許多地方都不約而同倡議3R(即是Reduce,減少使用;Reuse,物盡其用;Recycle,循環再造),就是提倡廢物分類和回收,鼓勵市民減少浪費。


台灣:廢棄塑料造球衣


台灣近年的廢物回收率便相當彪炳,高達58%,這建基於自2001年施行的完善垃圾分類政策,當地政府規定市民棄置垃圾之前必須分為三大類,包括可循環再造廢物,如紙張、金屬罐、電腦設備;廚餘和大型廢物(如床墊)等。不按規定者可被罰款新台幣6,000元(1,500港元)。


台灣人重視回收,更善用回收物再造,在2014年世界盃足球賽,便有台商利用回收得來的廢棄塑料,造成環保塑膠材料(PET),為全球10支球隊製造球衣,大獲好評。2016年台灣棄置的電器及通訊用品經處理後所抽取出來的金屬物質,可再用率超過八成,而從廢容器所產生的再生用料的價值更可達新台幣32億元(8.5億港元)。回收資源已成為台灣人其中一個寶庫。


南韓:以IT收集廚餘


南韓則以垃圾分類,應對堆填區短缺和市民反對焚化爐擴建計劃的問題。1995年開始,首爾規定住戶須以預繳垃圾袋盛載廢物,並按量收費。家居廢物分為四大類,包括可循環再造廢物(即包裝廢物,如紙盒、玻璃樽及發泡膠等;廢棄產品,如電子產品;其他可回收物品如報紙、廢鐵及衣物等),以及廚餘、大型廢物和不能循環再造的廢物等。


其中也用上資訊科技(IT),例如廚餘會發出異味,居民便要先做好分類處理,之後放入設於住宅大廈公共範圍內、附有無線射頻識別(RFID)的收集箱,它可記錄按重量收費的詳情。結果,首爾的人均家居廢物量在20年間下跌近三成,由1995年的1.3公斤,下降至2014年不足一公斤;而包含廚餘的循環再造率在2014年更達到67%,是廿年前的三倍多。


廢物有價值


回到香港,我們的垃圾問題已非常嚴峻,源頭減廢和回收再用是積極之道。近日看到有年輕人構思利用街市收集回來的豆渣,製造豆渣饅頭,並打算變成一盤生意,不理生意如何,他們帶出「物盡其用」的精神,值得嘉許。


其實很多被棄掉的廢物本身仍有價值,只要花些心思,便可變成有用之物,環護教育基金會「樹e護計劃」早前舉辦的免費「紙種植物」工作坊,正是介紹大家利用廢紙攪碎成紙漿,代替泥土,有助種子發芽生長,證明廢紙也甚有價值,參加的大小朋友都上了實用又環保的一課。


狗年伊始,我在此祝各位愉快美滿,並合力營造美好的綠色環境,共度綠色新一年!


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本會主席鄧淑明博士撰文建議效法日韓重視回收再造

更新日期: 22/2/2018


香港的垃圾問題十分嚴竣,每天人均產生的都市固體廢物量持續高企。本會主席鄧淑明博士於報章撰文建議仿效日韓的垃圾處理方法,呼籲大眾共同源頭減廢,重視回收再造,從而營造一個美好的綠色環境。


報章內容


垃圾處理師法日韓 (信報財經新聞)


農曆新年長假期大家可有趁機外遊?日本和南韓是香港人的旅遊熱點,兩地除了流行文化蓬勃,環境潔淨亦是吸引遊客之處,而兩地的廢物處理也值得我們參考。


垃圾問題困擾現代人,因此許多地方都不約而同倡議3R(Reduce,減少使用;Reuse,物盡其用;Recycle,循環再造),就是提倡廢物分類和回收。


例如日本人着重包裝,故此產生不少垃圾,所以日本人特別重視回收。日本政府也嚴格執行垃圾分類,當地垃圾分為可燃燒類(如廚餘及木片)、不可燃燒類(如玻璃、陶瓷及金屬)及循環可再生類(膠樽及廢紙);分類之外,還有不同的收集時間及數量限制。結果2016年日本的膠樽回收率高達84%,鋁罐的回收量更逾九成。


南韓則以垃圾分類應對堆填區短缺,以及市民反對焚化爐擴建計劃的問題。1995年開始,首爾規定住戶須以預繳垃圾袋盛載廢物,並按量收費。家居廢物分為四大類,包括可循環再造廢物(如紙盒、發泡膠、電子產品、廢鐵及衣物等),以及廚餘、大型廢物和不能循環再造的廢物等。


其中也用上資訊科技,例如廚餘會發出異味,居民便要先做好分類處理,之後放入設於住宅大廈公共範圍內、附有無線射頻識別(RFID)的收集箱,它可記錄按重量收費的詳情。這種收集箱每個成本約為170萬韓圜(萬多港元),一個收集箱可應付60個住戶的需要。


結果,首爾的人均家居廢物量在20年間下跌近三成,由1995年的1.3公斤降至2014年不足1公斤;包含廚餘的循環再造率在2014年更達到67%,是20年前的3倍多。


回到香港,我們的垃圾問題非常嚴竣,而且在垃圾處理落後於許多地方。2015年日本每天人均產生的都市固體廢物為0.96公斤,英國是1.33公斤,芬蘭為1.32公斤,但同年香港人均每天產生的固體廢物高達1.39公斤,2016年更攀升至1.41公斤,創23年新高。


源頭減廢和回收再用是積極之道。其實很多被棄掉的廢物仍有價值,只要花些心思,可以變成有用的物件,環護教育基金會「樹e護計劃」早前舉辦的免費「紙種植物」工作坊,介紹大家利用廢紙攪碎成紙漿,代替泥土,有助種子發芽生長,證明廢紙也甚有價值。


狗年伊始,我在此祝各位愉快美滿,並合力營造美好的綠色環境,共度綠色新一年!


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本會主席鄧淑明博士撰文鼓勵源頭減廢

更新日期: 21/2/2018


不少廢物仍有一定價值,只要多花心思,便能成為有用的資源,好像棄置的年吉及桃花,可以回收再植,又或製造植物肥料,所以本會主席鄧淑明博士鼓勵大家善用廢物,減少浪費,實行源頭減廢,改善垃圾問題。


報章內容


Have a green new year (ejinsight)


During the Chinese New Year, many shopping malls, housing estates and households decorate their premises with various items, along with mandarin orange plants and peach blossoms, to enrich the festive atmosphere. Now comes the question: what is done with all that decoration and plants afterwards?


According to the report “Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong” published by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) at the end of last year, on average there were 177 tons of garden waste disposed in landfills daily in 2016 after the CNY, including festive plants and potted plants.


Hong Kong lacks a well-established system for recycling garden waste. Fortunately, in recent years, the EPD has implemented measures to reduce waste from the source and foster waste recycling to solve the problems.


After the CNY, we see quite a number of mandarin orange plants being abandoned. In view of this, the Housing Department has recently introduced a plan to collect the plants from various public housing estates. Quality plants will be selected for planting in the housing estate.


Hong Kong: High per capita waste volume


At the same time, the EPD also carried out peach blossom recycling activity. Citizens or shops could bring the plants to be disposed to the selected recycling stations at a specified time. The peach blossoms would then be processed into wood-derived fuel or horticultural fertilizer. In 2016, over 14,000 peach blossoms and mandarin oranges were collected.


However, Hong Kong is lagging behind when compared with other developed places in waste management. In 2015, Japan generated 0.96 kg municipal solid waste per capita per day, while the corresponding figures in the United Kingdom and Finland stood at 1.33 kg and 1.32 kg respectively. Now, what about Hong Kong? Well, we produced up to 1.39 kg in 2015 and 1.41 in the following year, the highest in 23 years.


Garbage problem bothers people in modern cities. Therefore, many places invariably advocate 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) to promote waste separation and recycling, and encourage citizens to reduce wastage.


Japan: Effective waste recycling


For example, the Japanese focus on packaging which is the cause of a lot of garbage. They stress recycling to solve this problem. The Japanese government strictly enforces garbage classification. The local garbage can be divided into combustible (such as kitchen waste and wood chips), non-combustible (such as glass, ceramics and metals) and recyclable (plastic bottles and waste paper). In addition, there are different collection time and quantity limits for the public to follow strictly.


As a result, the plastic bottle recycling rate in Japan was as high as 84 percent in 2016, while the recycle of aluminum cans exceeded 90 percent. Among the various places in the country, Kamikatsu-cho in Tokushima prefecture has seen garbage getting classified into 34 types and its total rubbish recycling rate reaching an impressive 80 percent. Now, it is moving towards the goal of “zero waste”.


Taiwan: Discarded plastic turns into jersey


As for Taiwan, its waste recycling rate is also extraordinary, up to 58 percent, and the usage rate of recyclables is also very satisfactory. This is due to a garbage classification policy implemented since 2001. The local government requires citizens to separate garbage according to three categories, before disposal: (1) recyclable wastes, which are subdivided into flat type (such as paper and plastic bag), three-dimensional (such as metal cans and computer equipment), and others (such as batteries); (2) food wastes; and (3) large wastes (such as mattresses). People who do not follow the rules are subject to a fine of NT$6,000 (HK$1,600).


The Taiwanese stress the importance of recycling and they make full use of recyclables. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, some Taiwanese businessmen use recycled plastics to create environmentally friendly plastic materials (PET) to produce jerseys of 10 national teams. The move was highly appreciated. In 2016, over 80 percent of the reclaimed metal from Taiwan’s disposal of electrical appliances and communications products had been reused. With the value of recycled materials generated from disposed containers reaching NT$3.2 billion, recycled resource has become one of the Taiwanese treasures.


South Korea: Collecting food waste with IT


In South Korea, Seoul has stipulated since 1995 that households should use pre-paid garbage bags for disposal, and charged them according to the weight of garbage. Household waste is divided into four major categories, including recyclable waste (i.e. packaging waste such as paper boxes, glass bottles and styrofoam; waste products such as electronic products; other recyclable items such as newspapers, scrap iron, clothing, etc.), food waste, large waste and residual waste.


Information technology is also used. For example, food waste and smell-inducing organic waste became a concern as they emit an odor. Residents are required to sort them according to the government guidelines before storing them in a container with radio frequency identification (RFID) in the common area of the residential buildings. The container records the weight-based billing details. Each container costs about 1.7 million won (HK$11,000) each, and can cater for the needs of 60 households.


As a result, the volume of household waste per capita in Seoul dropped nearly 30 percent in 20 years, from 1.3 kg in 1995 to less than 1 kg in 2014; while the recycle rate including food waste reached 67 percent in 2014, which was three times the level 20 years ago.


Waste can be valuable


Returning to Hong Kong, our garbage problem is very serious, and it calls more efforts to reduce waste at the source, as well increased recycling. Recently, some young people brought up an idea to use soya bean dregs collected from wet markets to make steam bread. They intended to turn it into a business. No matter whether it will be a success or not, the “Waste No Food” spirit is highly laudable.


In fact, many of the wastes are still valuable. With some creative ideas, they can turn out to be very useful. Earlier, the Conservation E3 Foundation conducted a free Paper Planting Plants workshop. Part of the Tree Adoption Program, the trainer introduced the practice of using pulp generated from waste paper to replace soil, and help seed germination and growth. It proved that waste paper is also valuable. The adults and the children who attended the workshop learned a practical and environmental friendly lesson.


At the beginning of the Year of the Dog, may I wish you all a happy new year. Let’s work together to create a beautiful green environment, and live a green new year!


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本會主席鄧淑明博士撰文建議市民多到公園呼吸清新空氣

更新日期: 2/2/2018


香港的空氣污染持續惡化,空氣質素健康指數常處於風險水平。空氣污染不但加劇氣候變化,還會危害市民健康。本會主席鄧淑明博士在報章撰文建議大家多到訪市區公園,親近樹木,因為樹木又稱為城市之肺,可以降温及吸走空氣中的懸浮粒子,並將二氧化碳化為氧氣,帶來清新空氣。


報章內容


【特稿】鬧市中呼吸清新空氣


(am730) 2018年2月2日


環保署在上月中回顧本港空氣質素,發現去年高污染日數較2016年增加。執筆之時,香港正受煙霞影響,能見度下降至5,000米以下,多個地區包括銅鑼灣、中西區等空氣質素健康指數錄得8或以上,健康風險屬「甚高」水平。


香港的空氣污染嚴重,已超過世衞標準。環保署公佈的《2016年空氣質素》顯示,空氣中含二氧化氮(NO2)數量超過全年平均目標水平兩倍以上,而平均每小時超標的次數更多達134次,無怪乎經常出現空氣污染「爆燈」的報道。


空氣污染禍患不淺


世界衛生組織指出,全球每年有超過300萬人因為空氣污染而早死。空氣污染不單加劇哮喘及慢性呼吸系統疾病的病情,更會增加罹患中風、心臟病、肺癌的風險;同時可能對兒童大腦造成損害,影響發育及學習能力;也可令成年人加速腦退化,影響記憶力。


試想像如果在空氣污染嚴重的區域上學上班或居住的話,你會如何自救?哪裡能夠吸一口清新空氣?我的建議是走到公園,親近一下樹木。樹木又稱為城市之肺,可以降温及吸走空氣中的懸浮粒子,並將二氧化碳化為氧氣,改善空氣質素。


如何在鬧市呼吸清新空氣


香港其實不乏這些設施。例如常常在健康風險「黑名單」的銅鑼灣,維園自然是不二之選;而中央圖書館旁的銅鑼灣運動場,中央有一大片打理得宜的綠油油草地,沿着緩跑徑則種有高壯的樹木,平日人流不多,比較清靜,是飯後散步的好去處。名列健康風險「甚高」的中西區,鄰近西區海底隧道的通風口的中山紀念公園也是一個不錯的選擇,雖然比起康文署其他公園,這個海濱公園的樹木也許不算特別多,但是中央也有一大片草地,看看也令人心曠神怡。


香港市區遍布大大小小的公園,康文署網頁便介紹了其中42個規模較大的,並詳列設施及地埋資訊。這些公園大多空間廣闊,環境清幽,而且設施齊備,可謂一家大細「放空、放電」的假日好去處。


如果時間比較充裕,「遊公園」可以走遠一點,細賞不同公園的花草樹木。好像將軍澳的香港單車館公園因為種植了十多棵櫻花樹,復活節前後便成為賞櫻的熱點;同時,南昌公園內的九十多棵黃花風鈴木亦大放異彩。而青衣公園內湖畔種有一排落羽杉和水松,一到秋冬時節,樹木泛黃轉紅,意景優美,不少市民在近湖的草地席地而坐,一邊欣賞紅葉,一邊野餐,十分寫意。


免費導賞團寓學習於娛樂


你可知道,香港動植物公園內也有一條楓香徑,兩旁種植的十多棵魁梧的楓香樹,每當樹葉變紅後,紅葉隧道非常壯觀。除楓香樹外,香港動植物公園還種植了不少樹木,其中不乏本地及外地的珍貴品種,公園為方便遊人認識樹木,更在樹上掛有名牌,介紹樹木資料。


環護教育基金會(CE3)的「樹e護計劃」,早前便在該園舉辦了費用全免的「樹木小醫生導賞團」,由大專生導賞員帶領參加者欣賞園內的樹木,並講解相關知識,寓學習於娛樂,更是大小朋友呼吸清新空氣、親近大自然的好機會。由於導賞團反應熱烈,CE3即將再次舉辦,有興趣的朋友不妨上網了解詳情兼報名參加。


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本會主席鄧淑明博士撰文建議行山減壓力

更新日期: 19/1/2018


香港居住環境狹窄,容易衍生情緒壓力,本會主席鄧淑明博士於報章撰文,建議大家多作郊遊,舒壓解憂,並介紹多條風景宜人及設有大自然資訊標誌的行山徑,市民既可以一邊享受郊野風光,又可一邊學習大自然的知識。


報章內容

【特稿】行山減壓學保育
(am730) 2018年1月19日


香港乃彈丸之地,但卻有超過七百萬人口,居住擠迫已成為香港人的生活寫照。統計署最近公布的2016年人口統計,香港人均的居住面積僅有161呎,較鄰近地區如新加坡(323呎)及上海(194呎)為低,相對台灣(505呎)的中位數更差多達3倍 ,香港居住環境是名副其實的蝸居。長期生活在狹小空間容易產生壓力,衍生負面情緒,甚至傾向暴力,影響身心。無怪乎,近年來屢有報道劏房發生的衝突事故。


香港行山徑舉世知名


根據英國埃塞克斯大學(University of Essex)進行的精神健康調查顯示,在大自然之中漫步,較在室內環境如商場閒逛更能減低負面情緒,即使只作綠野步行30分鐘,已可以讓人感覺精神爽利及減少疲勞。日本更流行「森林浴」(shinrin-yoku),認為經常在山林郊野活動,便能從大自然所產生的聲音、氣味及環境而感受寧靜,舒緩精神壓力 。


香港雖然是石屎森林,但郊野地區佔約香港總面積的四分之三 。香港現有24個郊野公園及22個保護自然生態的特別地區 ,分布港九新界,並闢有不同的行山徑,而且大多交通配套完善,所以想要掃走沉鬱壓力,也不愁沒有路徑。


舉家郊遊一樂也


其實香港的行山徑不但受香港人愛戴,也受到海外人士的注目。《國家地理雜誌》便有行山權威推介香港的麥理浩徑為全球20名最佳的行山徑之一,可媲美尼泊爾珠穆朗瑪峰基地營及美國華盛頓州奧林匹克國家公園等之勝景 。龍脊行山徑沿途景色宜人,盡覽南中國海、石澳、大浪灣、赤柱及大潭一帶的壯麗景觀,深得行山人士垂青,早被世界認定為亞洲最佳市區行山徑 。


一家人想要輕鬆自在遊,可以考慮遊走水塘一帶,城門水塘、河背水塘和大潭水塘便是不錯的選擇。家庭遊還可以選擇從山頂出發,行至薄扶林水塘,飽覽港島西無敵海景,連美國有線電視新聞網(CNN)都推崇為最適合新手行的路徑之一。此外,若要寓娛樂於學習,香港有不少郊野公園設有自然教育徑,沿途標誌各種植物及動物的資料,一家人既可以一面享受自然環境,另一方面學習大自然知識,確是有益身心的假日活動。


寓郊遊於學習


不過,要更深入了解大自然,可以參加坊間的生態導賞團,最近環護教育基金會(CE3)的「樹e護計劃」(簡稱TAP)便舉辦多個免費的生態導賞團,鼓勵大家走近綠樹環抱的自然環境,學習樹木知識。


TAP這個重點社區項目,由環境及自然保育基金贊助,旨在透過網上平台結合網下環境,同時配合一連串的生態導賞團、工作坊、講座等教育活動,鼓勵同學參與樹木保育,現已吸引超過千名學生及家長參與;更邀請了幾十名正就讀樹木相關學科的大專生擔任義工和朋輩導師。TAP也推出手機應用程式,利用地理資訊系統(GIS)設計互動樹木地圖,讓參加者輸入樹木高度、生長紀錄、健康情況等資料,方便學生隨時隨地考察樹木。


早前舉行的「樹木小醫生導賞團」反應踴躍,近50名小學及幼稚園生和家人一起參與,由朋輩導師和義工帶領於香港動植物公園內賞樹, 導師深入淺出地講解樹木知識,例如會指導小保育大使在樟樹下嗅嗅葉子散發的樟腦味道,又教他們畫下不同樹葉的形態,令人以輕鬆的方式接近大自然。給小朋友從小灌輸護養樹木的價值觀,便能實實在在地為下一代開拓更智慧的綠色未來。


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本會主席鄧淑明博士撰文提倡改善樹木管理制度

更新日期: 10/1/2018


很多國家如新加坡和日本都重視樹木管理,除了積極培訓樹藝人才,還加入新科技,以改進樹木保育的技術。本會主席鄧淑明於香港聯合國教科文之友電子會訊撰文,認為香港可以借鏡其他國家,從新檢訂現行的樹木管理制度,改善樹木保育工作,讓香港成為一個宜居的綠色城市。


撰文內容:


締造綠色智慧香港 ( 香港聯合國教科文之友電子會訊)


每個家長也希望子女聰明伶俐,但你又可聽過「聰明葉」呢?


我在元朗長大,小時四週環境長有不少老樹,其中一棵是小學旁的洋紫荊樹。話說我小時候讀書成績還算不錯,其中以自然科學最突出,可是聖經科成績就強差人意,因為那科著重背誦,令我提不起勁。不過,聰明葉改變了我。


「聰明葉」的奇妙效果


小四那一年,聖經科老師告訴我們,洋紫荊的樹葉又叫「聰明葉」,只要把樹葉作書籤夾在書中,再把書放在枕頭下,人就會變得聰明,更會取得好成績。而學校旁的洋紫荊樹堪稱全區最大最茂盛,地上也總是遍佈樹葉。於是我和同學走到樹下精挑細選了幾片落葉,從此以後,我也養成以洋紫荊葉作書籤的習慣。


說也奇怪,我往後的聖經科成績果然有所長進,我不知道這跟洋紫荊葉書籤有沒有直接關係,但仔細想想,考試測驗除了講求知識運用,其實心理質素也非常重要,而那些樹葉令我心境寧靜,我又相信它們會帶來好運氣,令我信心大增,因此考試時可以沉著應戰。


所以,人們常以英雄樹比喻剛強堅毅,我卻會聯想到洋紫荊。


香港人均市區綠化面積少


以前,人和大自然總有這樣那樣的連繋,但隨著城市化的發展,看到樹木的機會日漸減少——雖然香港四成土地是郊野公園,但根據中文大學早前的研究,我們的人均市區綠化面積其實僅為二平方米,遠遠不如新加坡的十平方米,以及東京的七平方米。 而樹木為我們遮蔭降溫——不少硏究也顯示,建築物密度高的地方,綠化的降溫效果最突出,溫度可減少達二三度。不過,在香港市區人煙稠密,樹木也只能瑟縮一旁,根基難以紮實,颱風之後不免滿目瘡痍。去年申訴專員公布調查報告,對政府的樹木管理提出不少評論,其中我認為最重要的,是人才培育,由專業團隊以至大眾市民也應加強教育。


外地人才培訓經驗


新加坡和日本早已建立樹木管理的人才培訓體系。新加坡於2007年成立了培訓機構,為園境從業員提供園藝及樹藝專業訓練;同時園境業每個工種都制訂了行業標準,並為每個技能水平設定技能晉升階梯;日本更早於2000年代初,已根據國際樹藝標準為樹木工人及樹藝師制訂地方標準及資歷制度,並在不同層面提供培訓課程。


申訴專員也提到有需要為樹木管理立法,包括就栽種、修剪及移除樹木訂立標準。新加坡早於1975年通過了《公園及樹木法令》(Parks and Trees Act) ,東京都政府也在2006年制訂《東京綠化計劃書》(Green Tokyo Plan),為樹木的管理策略奠定法律基礎,並清楚界定各方責任,確保政府和私人用地上的樹木均得到妥善的管理。


科技方便樹木管理


新科技也大派用場,例如新加坡於兩年前推出的手機程式,透過地理資訊系統(GIS),前線人員在巡查時就可方便地提取資訊和實時更新資科;而3D及數學模型用作估量強風下樹木所受的衝擊,並評估哪些枝幹需要修剪以緩減天災可能的破壞。


內地近年也開始運用新科技進行樹木尤其古樹管理工作。今年淅江省林業廳便引進了一套古樹名木資訊管理系統,為每一棵古樹名木配備一個「電子戶口」,可在電腦上點擊某一個鄉鎮,該區域內的古樹名木在地圖上就會以樹形小圖呈現,之後可再進去看到每株樹所在的經緯度、樹種、樹齡、種植土壤類型、養護單位、生長狀態等細節,並配有照片。而且從市、縣一直到鎮、村,令農林部門人員和基層護林員能根據這電子地圖準確找到所護養的樹木,方便對古樹保護和管理。


鼓勵重建和大自然的連繫


在香港,環護教育基金會剛於九月底推出的「樹e護計劃」,招募了不少中小學生作樹木保育大使。這個網上互動平台充分運用新科技,再透過生態導賞團、講座、分享會等鼓勵年輕人考察樹木,增加對植物的認識,重新建立和大自然的連繫。 同時,我希望政府能在城市發展、環境保護和優質生活之間取得平衡之餘,同時仿效近鄰的成功經驗,積極而有系統地培育人才,輔以資訊科技,為我們締造一個綠色的智慧城市。


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Let’s build a green smart Hong Kong (Friends of UNESCO HK e-Newsletter)

Every parent wants their children to be clever, but have you heard of a "clever leaf" ?


I grew up in Yuen Long. There were many old trees in the surrounding area. One of them was the Bauhinia tree (or Hong Kong Orchid Tree), next to my primary school. When I was at school, I was not too bad with my study. I did best in Science. However, my performance in Religious Studies was far from satisfactory as I was very reluctant to study by rote learning. However, a “clever leaf” changed me.


“Clever leaf” worked magic


When I was studying in primary four, the teacher of Religious Studies told us that the Bauhinia leaf was also called "clever leaf." She said if people used the leaf as bookmark and placed the book under a pillow, they would be smarter and got better grades. The Bauhinia tree next to the school was seen as the biggest and lushest in the area. There were fallen leaves all over the ground. So my classmates and I went to pick several pieces of them. Since then, I had formed a habit of using Bauhinia leaves as bookmarks.


Strangely, my performance results in the Religious Studies had really improved ever since. I did not know if this is directly related to bookmarks made of Bauhinia leaves. However, I thought about it thoroughly and realized: other than the use of knowledge, psychological quality is also important while taking examination. Those leaves made me feel peaceful and I believed they would bring me good luck, so I gained much more confidence in taking the examinations. People often use cotton tree as a metaphor for strength and perseverance, but I just think of Bauhinia.


Low green area per capita in Hong Kong


We used to have close relationship with trees and the nature. But with the megatrend of urbanization, natural resources, such as water, clean air, and trees, are gradually depleted.


According to an earlier research by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, although country parks occupy 40% of Hong Kong’s total area, green area per capita within the urbanized area is only 2 square meters, far less than Singapore's 10 square meters, and Tokyo’s 7 square meters.


Trees can be our shelter for cooling - a lot of researches show that in the areas of densely built urban area, the cooling effect of greenery is prominent with temperature being reduced by two to three degrees. However, most of the trees in the urban areas of Hong Kong have grown in areas with shallow soil cover, making it difficult for them to have deeply rooted foundation. Therefore, fallen trees can be found everywhere after typhoons.


A lack of regulation and skill training


Last year, the Ombudsman published a survey report on the government's tree management, it made a lot of pertinent comments, in which the most important ones are regulation and skill training.


The report raised that there is no specific requirements of tree workers. These front-line inspectors are responsible for identifying problematic trees, assessing the risk of collapse, and taking daily care of the trees. However, the government only provide them with some basic training lasting for two days. No wonder the local tree management has been criticized for being deficient from time to time.


Tree management talent training overseas


Singapore and Japan have established a tree management talents training system. Singapore set up a training organisation in 2007 to provide horticultural and arboriculture training for landscape workers. At the same time, each scope of work in the horticultural industry has developed their industry standards and set the skills promotion ladder for each skill level. In early 2000, Japan has established local standards and qualifications systems for tree workers and arboriculturists in accordance with the international arboriculture standards, and provided different level of training.


The Ombudsman also mentioned the need for legislation on tree management, including establishing the standards for planting, trimming and removing trees. Singapore passed the Parks and Trees Act in 1975 and the Tokyo Government established the Green Tokyo Plan in 2006 to lay the legal foundation of tree management strategies and clearly define the responsibilities of different parties, so as to ensure the trees on the government and private lands are properly managed.


How technologies help


New technology is also applied. Examples are Singapore's mobile application using geographic information system (GIS) launched two years ago to facilitate front-line staff to extract information and real-time updates during inspection; 3D and mathematical models used to estimate the impact on trees under strong wind, and assess which branches need to be trimmed to minimise possible damage.


In recent years, the Mainland has also begun using new technology for tree management, especially for ancient trees. This year, the Department of Forestry of Zhejiang Province has introduced an information management system with each old and famous tree being assigned an electronic account. When you click on a town, the old and famous trees in that region will be shown on the map, then you can view each tree’s location (latitude and longitude), tree species, age, planting soil type, growth status, tree’s photo, and the responsible unit. The workers and staff of agriculture and forestry departments in the city, county, town and village, can locate the conserved trees in an electronic map to facilitate protection and management of them.


Local initiative


At the same time, a local community project called Tree Adoption Program (TAP) was recently launched by the Conservation E3 Foundation. Through an online platform, the project promotes learning the knowledge on trees among young people.


Earlier this year, the Development Bureau set up an Urban Forestry Advisory Panel to promote a comprehensive greening of the city. I hope the Government can strike a balance among urban development needs, environmental protection and quality of living, and can follow the successful experience of our neighbouring countries, to actively and systematically nurture talents with the help of information technology, thereby, creating a green smart city for all of us.


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