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Beautification scheme transforms vacant lots into gardens

How do you turn a vacant lot into a lush and colourful garden?

The answer is the Beautification of Vacant Government Land Scheme administered by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD).

To enhance city greening, improve the environment and make better use of land resources, the LCSD started the scheme in 2001. Since then, over 27,000 trees and about 600,000 shrubs have been planted on 40 pieces of vacant Government land, creating islands of green amid the concrete jungle.

"We plant flowering trees such as Queen Crape Myrtle, African Tulip Tree, Flame of the Forest and Golden-shower and shrubs that flower in all seasons, such as Chinese Ixora, Chinese Hibiscus and Allamanda, and surround them with green lawn," an LCSD spokesperson explained.

"When selecting plants for a piece of land, we will consider the features, characteristics and shape of the plants to ensure that the transformation occurs in a natural way."

The vacant land on Man Tung Road near Caribbean Coast in Tung Chung, Lantau Island, is a good example. To make the best use of this big plot, more grass was grown to give it an even more spacious feel. Decorative flowering climbers and ground covers were added to make the lawn more interesting. The beautification project transformed the land from a weedy ground into a scenic garden.

Greening work in the urban area must make full use of scarce available space. For example, the vacant land on Hoi Tai Street near Canossa School (Hong Kong) in Quarry Bay is a long, narrow strip squeezed between the school and the roadside. Rows of flowering trees and shrubs have helped to make it more tidy and pleasant.

"Before the Beautification Scheme, most vacant lands were just weeds and mud. The LCSD changed them into pleasant and tidy gardens that add beauty to the environment, and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds in the process. The project has won the support and praise of residents of the various districts," the spokesman added.

The vacant lands involved - defined as those to which no development plans apply in the next three years - are scattered throughout Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. Most are located in town centres and places with heavy pedestrian traffic, such as waterfront plazas.

In 2002/03, the LCSD converted 25 pieces of vacant Government land into gardens in 10 districts. The total area affected - 11 hectares - is almost the size of two Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens! For 2003/04, the department is at work transforming 16 pieces of vacant land in 10 districts, a total area of three hectares.

Ends/Thursday, December 25, 2003

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