How a Lebanese man planted a forest in Hong Kong

June 30, 2016 18:30
Bobsy Gaia has made significant contributions to improving the forest cover on Lamma Island. Photo: i-cable

A Lebanese entrepreneur in Hong Kong has won praise for helping improve the forest cover in the city and contribute to the environmental enhancement efforts. 

Bobsy Gaia and his team have turned the northern hill of Lamma Island into a lush green field by planting about 30,000 trees over the past 20 years.

"I am very glad that we planted a forest, and I am very proud to say my mission is accomplished,” Gaia was quoted as saying in an i-cable report.

The "ecopreneur" started his journey by first joining an environmental group for tree planting.

"It touched me quite deeply. Planting trees is giving life, giving oxygen," said Gaia, recalling the first seed he planted.

In 1997, Gaia founded a charity organization called ABLE Charity in a bid to protect and expand Hong Kong's forest cover.

The group began tree planting sessions, taking them up year after year in the barren northern hill of Lamma Island. 

"We planted 2,000 trees the first time. But I wanted to come back and plant more trees the following year, the year after, and so on, so that one day there may be a forest," Gaia says.

However, their painstaking effort was destroyed once by a fire started by careless people who were paying tributes at ancestors' graves during the Chung Yung festival in October 1998.

"When you see your babies go up with smoke, it's very painful," Gaia said, referring to the saplings that were destroyed by fire.

He then started another phase of tree planting at the same place.

As of now, he has planted a total of 30,000 trees, turning the barren parch into a green area.

The environmental enthusiast says he finds it immensely satisfying to see the trees grow and thrive.

Gaia hopes that every citizen will do his bit to protect the planet.

"We enjoy the fresh air, the beauty, but what are we giving back? When you see rubbish, no matter where you are, please pick it up," he says.

People should "give back and not just take" from Mother Earth, he adds.

Translation by Chloe Chow

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Northern hill of Lamma Island before and after a tree planting initiative. Photos: ABLE Charity