Tree labels with QR codes
There is a large number of trees in the territory. Different tree species can be seen along roadsides and in parks. For trees to grow healthily, apart from the comprehensive risk assessment and regular maintenance of trees carried out by tree management departments, the co-operation of the public is also very important. The Development Bureau (DEVB) is now launching a scheme of tree labels with QR codes, hoping to raise public awareness of trees and their maintenance so that Hong Kong people can work together to reduce the risk of tree failure.
Currently, about 1.7 million trees in Hong Kong are under the regular maintenance of the Government and amongst them, about one million are in areas of high pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow. In view of the wide distribution of trees in the territory, the Government adopts an “integrated approach” for tree management, under which departments are responsible for managing the trees in the facilities and land within their purview, so that appropriate routine tree maintenance can be carried out having regard to the characteristics and locations of different trees. On the other hand, trees located on private land are under the care of respective private lot and property owners.
Facilitating the public to report problematic trees
The DEVB has been actively exploring ways to apply smart technologies in tree management to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness. Displaying tree labels with QR codes is one of the new initiatives. Tree Management Officer, Ms Chan Yuen-man, Paula, of the DEVB says that through the use of QR codes, the scheme brings convenience both to the public in reporting problematic trees and to the DEVB in providing more tree knowledge, such as tree species, whether the species are indigenous or foreign, tree characteristics and other fun facts. The work to display QR-coded labels has commenced and will be completed in phases. The DEVB expects to first display QR-coded labels on about 200 000 trees along roadsides in early 2022.
Tree labels placed at pedestrians’ eye levels
Mr Chan Yuen-king, Paul, Landscape Architect of the consulting company implementing the scheme, tells us that tree labels with QR codes will be hung on trees at the eye level of pedestrians. Tree labels carry basic tree information including Chinese, English and botanical names. The labels mainly have two functions. Firstly, in case a problematic tree is found, the public can report to the authorities by, for example, calling 1823. As each tree has a unique number printed on its label, the public can tell the accurate location of a tree. Secondly, the public may scan the QR code on the tree label with a mobile phone to enter the website of the tree management authority for more tree information.
Covering locations with higher pedestrian flow
Mr Paul Chan says that the scheme of tree labels with QR codes covers the whole territory, involving trees at locations with higher pedestrian flow, such as major transport nodes which include areas outside MTR stations and ferry terminals. About 10 000 tree labels for around 100 tree species will be produced for distribution to various districts across Hong Kong in the first phase of the scheme. He says that as Hong Kong is a dense and compact city where people and trees are closely related, he hopes that the scheme will raise public concern about trees.
Tree information being scientific and interesting
Curator of Shiu-Ying Hu Herbarium of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr Lau Tai-wai, David, who is responsible for collecting and compiling tree information, says that he is excited that the herbarium can take part in the scheme. With the dedication of his colleagues to collecting information, the tree information thus compiled is both scientific and interesting. Quoting an example, he says that there is a tree species called Autumn Maple in Hong Kong. It is an indigenous species of ecological significance under the family of Euphorbiaceae. One Autumn Maple growing in Lai Chi Wo of Sha Tau Kok has a history of more than 100 years and is registered as an Old and Valuable Tree. The most interesting information is that the fruits of Autumn Maple can be used for brewing wine while leaves can be used as a spice for preparing a dish called “Jia Dong Ji (Autumn Maple Chicken)”.
Harmonious co-existence of the community and trees
Dr David Lau says that the public can simply scan the QR codes on the tree labels for more detailed information to understand tree species from various perspectives. He hopes that the scheme will inspire the public to respect and cherish trees more to achieve harmonious co-existence of the community and trees, which is also the aim of his team in compiling tree information.
Trees are integral parts of our outdoor environment. They provide amenity areas, moderate temperature, improve air quality and enhance biodiversity. It is hoped that, through the scheme of tree labels with QR codes, the message of tree care can be integrated into the daily life of the public and a positive attitude towards tree care will be fostered, so that our trees can grow more vigorously and healthily and Hong Kong will continue to be a safe, livable and sustainable city.
(The video is in Cantonese)
(The video is provided by Development Bureau)