Monday, July 9, 2007

ISA HK/China --- Lion Tail Pruning in North District

*** Station Mail is for the information of Station Members only, but Station Mail has given up copyright & can be freely circulated. For administrative reasons, comments from outsiders are usually not entertained & may be circulated within our system locally & overseas.***

Dear Station Members,

Attached photos show a recent pruning job somewhere in North District where the Station Manager frequently passes by. The trees were originally planted too close as a start but have somehow adapted to the site conditions & were thriving. Then for some unknown reasons, they were pruned in a 'Lion Tail' fashion by some maintenance contractors within a day.

Lion Tailing happens when excessive inner branches are removed, leaving a small portion of foliage at the end of every branch, rendering the branch to appear like a lion's tail. Lion Tailing leaves too much weight at the ends of branches & causes limbs to over-elongate, possibly resulting in sunburn, water sprouts, or even death of the tree. This effect is particularly exaggerated in windy condition. Sometimes many water sprouts are produced, guaranteeing annual removal to keep limbs clean of sprouts. Sometimes Crown Raising or Crown Thinning is confused with Lion Tail Pruning & excessive end weight in a tree may cause the tree to topple in wind. The Station Manager has studied the photos of the failed OVT in Battery Path in Central in mid-June & has noticed this mature tree was Lion-Tailed by pruning before failure.

Some international Arborists would regard Lion Tailed Pruning as a tree abuse at its worst along with Topping. Yet if our Station Members would look around our trees in streets & parks whether Govt or private in HK, Lion Tail Pruning seems to be a preferred method whether or not a tree would really need a trim. In international practices, any tree requiring work on it would first need be examined by an Arborist who would study for problems before prescribing treatment for health, structure or safety. Pruning may be one of the recommendations. This is like a patient going to a doctor for examination before receiving prescription, & treatment without diagnosis is mal-practice ! However in our territory, we seem to apply this principle for humans but not for trees. Trees are treated as wastes & would be pruned at pleasure whether required or not. Some maintenance contracts would even require regular pruning below a certain height. If nothing is done, the contractors will not be paid. Maybe this is why most of our trees in streets & parks are Lion Tailed.

To prune a tree without objectives would be like cutting body parts off somebody without reason. Why should we do it to a tree whereas we do not do it to a person ??

Aren't trees forgiving ?

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager


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