A Shanghai resident fined over $21,000 for pruning his camphor tree
Published: Aug 15, 2021 07:25 PM
A screen shot from a report by Shanghai Morning Post Photo: Shanghai Morning Post

A screen shot from a report by Shanghai Morning Post Photo: Shanghai Morning Post

A resident in Shanghai was fined over 140,000 yuan ($21,610) for pruning a camphor tree which was bought and grown by him, triggering a wide discussion among Chinese netizens on Sunday with many suggesting that an administrative warning might have been better before giving him a heavy punishment.

The hashtag "Shanghai man was fined $21,000 for pruning a camphor tree" had over 160 million reads on Chinese-twitter like Sina Weibo as of press time. 

The resident, surnamed Li, was also shocked by the punishment. He bought the tree in 2002 over 10,000 yuan, and planted it in his own courtyard. However, he moved it outside his courtyard a few years later because it had grown too tall, blocking out sunshine. A few years later, the tree had grown even taller and Li pruned it in January as it was also blocking out sunshine. 

Li let workers cut down all the branches of the tree, only leaving the main tree trunk, which is over two meters high. 

"Individuals have no right to transplant and cut trees on public green spaces without the approval of the related greening departments," Shanghai Morning Post reported on Saturday, citing Zhu Xiaoxi, a staff member from Shanghai local urban management department. 

If the tree was planted in residents' own courtyard and the diameter of the tree was less than 25 centimeters, the tree can be dealt with by residents themselves, according to Zhu.

As for the amount of the punishment, Zhu explained that the standards of "excessive pruning" were based on varieties of trees.

Some netizens suggested Li to require an administrative review. Some said local authorities should do more work to educate the public about the regulations before punishing offenders. 

"I agree with the move of fining, but the amount is too heavy," one netizen wrote.