The Sixth Biennial Conference of East Asian Environmental History( EAEH2021)において
報告テーマ「A socio-ecological history of Banyan tree in Cheng chau island, HongKong」
報告者 Yoko Fukao
In 1993, there was a movement to protect a giant Banyan Tree on Cheung Chau Island in Hong Kong. The tree was a centuries-old feng shui tree that provided shade to the local people, forming a focal point for local faith about the tree. People gathered around the tree and chatted on hot summer days, believing that the “dragon veins” flowing through the tree protected the lives of the islanders. However, as the wave of development hit the island, the dense settlements in the area were evacuated. A road was planned to be built for firefighting purposes, as vehicles could not enter the area near the pier. The giant Banyan tree was going to be cut down. The local street committee appealed for its protection, which attracted the attention of university students and urban environmentalists. The citizens’ campaign was successful, and the Giant Banyan Tree was preserved.
Thirty years have passed since then, and I was wondering what happened to the tree, so I took a look on Google Street View since I could not visit the site due to the pandemic. However, the people who used to gather around the tree were no longer there, and no one was paying attention to the remaining giant banyan tree in a corner of the square near the harbor. Often seen in the streets of Hong Kong, southern China, and Taiwan, the context of the people and the cultural and social meanings of the tree are very important in its protection. In this case, the tree was preserved, but the social and cultural context of the people has been lost.