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Taipei’s first Tree Preservation Award goes to six winners

By Yali Chen
 
Taipei City has nearly 2,000 protected trees with much heritage value.​ Although some of these trees are on private property, many more are on public land usually managed by the city government.
 
In an effort to praise the organizations that have done the best job of protecting trees over the past few years, Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DOCA) held the first “Taipei Tree Preservation Awards” (臺北樹益獎) – a real milestone for Taiwan’s tree lovers.
 
Taipei City Deputy Mayor Chen Chin-jun, the DOCA Commissioner Chung Yung-feng, and Wu Meng-ling, one of Taipei City’s Tree Protection Committee members, attended the awards ceremony on September 20 in the Taipower Building. Six winners were recognized for their contribution and dedication to protecting trees in Taipei.

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Photo from D-Fun
A group photo of Taipei City Deputy Mayor Chen Chin-jun (center in the back row) and Chung Yung-feng (first from right in the back row), Commissioner of Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, with Taipei Tree Preservation Award winners.
 
The awards were divided into three categories: maintenance and management, promotion, and technical maintenance.
 
The first category praised the winners for maintaining and managing protected trees. The winners were Taipei Municipal Jing-Mei Elementary School (景美國小) and Taiwan Power Company (台灣電力股份有限公司).
 
The second category recognized the organizations that promote tree protection. The award went to the Fu-Tien Tree Healing & Conservation Foundation (財團法人福田樹木保育基金會), which helps to treat sick older trees and held a series of events promoting tree preservation.

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Photo from D-Fun
The two protected trees, “Manila tamarind,” resemble a couple standing at Taipei Municipal Jing-Mei Elementary School.
 
The third category paid tribute to tree workers who care for protected trees. The three winners included Tainrui Corp. (天蕊股份有限公司), which specializes in tree cancer treatment; Guangrong Green Co. (廣容綠化有限公司), which excels in the treatment of brown root rot disease and environmental protection; and Treegarden Corp. (樹花園股份有限公司) for its work in transplanting big trees.
 
The trophies were designed by Lai Yun-hsin (賴永興), Professor of Sculpture at the National Taiwan University of Arts. He was the first artist in Taiwan to hold a PhD in sculpture research and has devoted all his energies to wood art. The concept of his trophy design, “Tree House,” is to present the relationship between urban buildings and trees, and to convey the gratitude of the city government and the public.
 
Manila tamarind (also known as Pithecellobium dulce), a species of flowering plant in the pea family, is a fast-growing tree with a generally broad or rounded crown.

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Photo from D-Fun
Taiwan Power Company holds a flower viewing event of Crateva religiosa
whose flowers have long, spidery stamens.

 
The No. 1415 and 1416 listed protected trees are Manila tamarind, which resemble a couple standing proudly near the campus playground at Taipei Municipal Jing-Mei Elementary School. According to the school records, they have stood there since the school was founded in 1897.
 
Well over 100 years old, the trees were dying because they had been repeatedly affected by a wide variety of diseases, parasites and pests, the school’s principal Chan Rui-jing (詹瑞璟) said. The school constantly sought the help of arborists to care for them.
 
In 2005, they invited Yang Gan-ling, the first certified arborist in Taiwan, to treat the two trees by removing their decayed and burned parts and injecting medicine into their trunks. Between 2011 and 2012, the invasion of wood-inhabiting bacteria hindered the trees from absorbing nutrients. The school asked a private foundation to perform surgical debridement, use artificial tree bark for wound healing, and improve root respiration in trees.

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Photo from D-Fun
The Fu-Tien Tree Healing & Conservation Foundation holds a series of
volunteer training programs to protect trees.

 
In 2017, the branches and leaves of the two trees turned dry and yellow. With the financial support of Taipei City’s Department of Education, the school carried out a habitat improvement project in 2018. At last, under careful care, the tree couple survived.
 
“In the school’s 122 year history, we have been lucky to have the two trees stay with us. For our nearly 20,000 teachers and students, they are like lovely grandparents,” Chan said. “We have created a program to help students gain a better understanding of Manila tamarind. I hope that all teachers and students care for the old trees and develop attitudes to respect life and cherish nature.”
 
The No. 705 listed protected tree is Crateva religiosa (also known as the sacred garlic pear), a species of flowering tree. The tree is sometimes called the spider tree because its eye-catching flowers have long, spidery stamens.

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Photo from D-Fun
By using an all-terrain crane, Treegarden Corp. spends nearly 20 hours moving a
protected tree to its new home and keeping its root ball intact.

 
Located opposite the Wenzhou Park in the Da-an District, Taipei, this protected tree is a rare exotic species in Taiwan. In 1983, two employees of Taiwan Power Company thought that it was Ficus religiosa or sacred fig. They planted it near their company and prayed for blessing and peace.
 
The flowering season of Crateva religiosa runs from February to June. This protected tree in full bloom every April has not only caught many people’s eyes, but has also become a great place to post photos on Facebook.
 
But since 2013, the tree has gradually reduced flowering. Several members of Taipei City’s Tree Protection Committee found that its growing environment was too small and poor. They suggested improving its habitat and creating a suitable growth space for the old tree.
 
The company’s vice general manager Chen Wei-tzu (陳慰慈) said that they had improved the tree habitat in 2016 and held a series of events including music festivals and flower viewing in recent years.
 
In 2008, Mr. Chen Fu-tien set up a foundation to nurture certified arborists and encourage more people to engage in tree treatment and preservation. The Fu-Tien Tree Healing & Conservation Foundation used its own funds to help care for sick old trees and promote environmental awareness through a series of service activities, environmental education, volunteer training programs, and tree health diagnosis by tree surgeons.
 
The foundation launched a campaign to rescue old trees in 2009 and since then has provided free treatment. Trees receiving free revitalizing treatment from the foundation include Bead Tree (No. 221) and East Indian Walnut (No. 220) at Taipei Municipal Ying-Qiao Elementary School in 2010, Manila tamarind at Taipei Municipal Jing-Mei Elementary School in 2011, sacred fig (No. 577) at Taipei Municipal Xin-Sheng Elementary School in 2013, and ginkgo (No. 825) at Taipei Municipal Xi-Men Elementary School in 2015.
 
Established by the foundation in 2008, the Fu-Tien Tree Hospital offers free professional tree health diagnoses. By the end of 2017, a total of 222 old trees had been diagnosed. The foundation’s long-term promotion and engagement in protected trees was worthy of recognition, the DOCA said.
 
Brown root rot disease, a fungal infection often referred to as “tree cancer,” has no known cure and is one of the top tree killers in tropical regions.
 
Tainrui Corp., a technology transfer manufacturer of the Council of Agriculture, specializes in performing surgical resection to treat old trees with the root disease.
 
With its expertise and professional skills, Tainrui saved a listed protected tree (No. 307) at Taipei Municipal Da-tong Elementary School in 2016. It was infected with root disease, and the company moved it to a better habitat within the school.
 
Guangrong Green Co. is also a technology transfer manufacturer of the Council of Agriculture. The company has much experience in treating old trees with root disease, performing surgical debridement, and improving their habitats.

Guangrong’s successful treatments include two Eucalyptus Trees (No. 230 and 231) at the University of Taipei in 2015, a protected Cajuput Tree (No. 1694) at Taipei Confucius Temple in 2016, a protected East Indian Walnut at the National Taipei University of Education in 2016, and a privately protected Royal Poinciana Flame Tree (No. 1621) in 2018.
 
Moving a tree to a new location should be done under the right conditions and preserve most of its life-supporting root system.
 
Treegarden Corp. has developed a technical method of keeping the root ball intact while moving a tree to a new home. The protected Eucalyptus Tree (No. 1021) was located in Beitou District, Taipei. Before the start of an urban renewal project at the Qiyan section in Beitou District, the company successfully transplanted this protected tree to its new home by using a 700-ton all-terrain crane and working for nearly 20 hours.