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Cracking down on holiday cheer(2010-12-17)


Cracking down on holiday cheer

The strands of lights festively twinkling on trees lining Beijing's avenues this winter actually pose a threat to their well-being and are thus forbidden by regulations, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Landscape and Forestry said Tuesday.

"It is forbidden to hang lights on trees according to the third clause of article 50 of the Beijing forestry regulations," said a bureau office worker surnamed Zhang.

The clause says that hanging advertisements and other objects on trees is a form of doing damage. "Tree lights belong to the 'other objects' category," Zhang explained.

"Where is the fun if there are no tree lights at Christmas?" lamented Yin Shuai, a bank employee and concerned citizen, who added, "I guess the chengguan [urban law enforcers] can't be bothered to care about it. There are tree lights everywhere in the city."

Trees have been officially lit in the past, such as for the National Day festivities this year, but there still appear to be contradictory regulations regarding tree lights. "The illuminators best not be installed on trees… All bulbs installed on trees must be less than 1 watt each," say the regulations on obstructive outdoor lights issued by the Municipal Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau, which came into effect on December 1 and imply that the bureau tolerates certain lights on trees.

"The trees have their own light cycle. Man-made lights will affect their biological clocks," said Lu Junqi, deputy director of the Forestry Carbon Administration at the Beijing Forestry and Parks Department of International Cooperation, and a senior researcher of the landscape and forestry bureau.

"For example, trees near streetlights lose less leaves than trees growing elsewhere. When the temperature suddenly drops and the cold strikes, trees with more leaves stand a bigger chance of dying," Zhang explained. However, he added that if the trees have already dropped their leaves, decorating them with lights will not have a negative effect on their light cycles.

"As you might have seen, some people hang lights on the trees and never bother to take them down. The wrapped wires can also do damage to the tree bark," an unnamed official from the Municipal Bureau of Landscape and Forestry told the Global Times.

"Lights should be turned off or dimmed during off-peak hours to avoid continuous lighting of trees, which has the greatest potential for upsetting normal growth patterns," suggests William R. Chaney, a professor of tree physiology at the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources of Purdue University, in a 2005 article.

An employee answering the city chengguan hotline said that it is their job to deal with tree lights and that they will remove them whenever they find them.

Last year, Fengtai district chengguan removed tree lights installed by five hotels and restaurants on December 20, the Legal Mirror and qianlong.com reported. A total of 23 more trees were freed of their lights by Tuanjiehu chengguan in August 2007.

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