The hill on which Sri Aman’s Fort Alice -which has just been restored in a RM5mil project- has been stripped of about a dozen (all but two) of its old trees.
The stripping of the leafy surroundings has been described as being part of “beautification works” of the Fort’s surroundings. It appears to have been prompted by public safety concerns ahead of the official re-opening of the Fort.
But,… Why fell rather than trim such venerable old trees ? Why almost all of them?
The director of the restoration project, Mike Boon, who is also a Sarawak Heritage Society founding member and past chairman, said : “I am disappointed and disheartened. I don’t understand why the trees, which are part of the heritage consideration, had to be cut down. We are handing over the project to the client (Museum Department) on Monday. Now it feels the setting of the fort is partly lost. (…) [The trees] formed part of the public space. Heritage and conservation values aside, with the trees gone, there could be erosion issues.”
This incident is indeed very saddening to our growing heritage-conscious community. It appears to highlight still deep-seated misunderstandings on what forms the values of heritage assets.
Let us take this case as a booster of advocacy for good, globally recognized practices of heritage conservation.
Media articles :
- The Star Metro, 11 March 2015: “Lame safety excuse for tree destruction”
- Borneo Post, 9 March 2015: “Folks’ mixed reaction to trees felled near Fort Alice”
- The Star, 8 March 2015: “Public outcry over senseless destruction of trees at Fort Alice“
[updated 11-03 and 12-03-2015]