Previously unseen photos from a flat at ground zero of the Banyan tree fall and subsequent cull. Say goodbye to the four hundred-year-old Banyan trees ripped from their home on the stonewall of Bonham Road.
The death of a majestic banyan on Bonham Road prompted a cry of dismay from the community – and a furtive nighttime cull from the government. The protests followed. Case Everaert, a resident of an apartment directly above the Banyan trees, was there when the first fell and has generously provided HT with never-before-seen images, photographed during the few days of the controversy.
One of the six Banyan trees planted into a colonial-era wall uprooted and collapsed onto Bonham Road on July 22 in the face of strong winds, causing two injuries and damaging a truck. A newspaper vendor was pinned under the tree until he could be cut loose. The weakened structure of the wall caused the Highways Department to remove another tree next to the fallen one, leaving four remaining.
According to the Department, daily inspections on the four remaining stonewall trees revealed growing cracks, leading to the decision to chop them off on the late night of Monday, August 7. Democratic Party district councillor Nelson Wong Kin-shing (黃堅成) later said he was informed of the chopping only several minutes before it was done.
The cutting work continued into the early hours of Tuesday. This crane was photographed at 12:55am, sawing away at the last Banyan tree on the stonewall of Bonham Road.
Warm rays of morning sunlight hit Bonham Road on August 8. A day before, proud Banyan trees stood where only stumps remain now.
The public quickly responded with anger, culminating in a protest on August 9, led by Democratic Party’s Central and Western councillor, Ted Hui Chi-fung (許智峯), environmental group Green Sense, and activist group Island West Dynamic Movement. The group complained that the decision to cut the trees lacked sufficient reasoning.
Standing under the remnants of the Banyan trees, Hui and the activists address the media.