Monday, July 9, 2007

ISA HK/China --- Tree Failures, Tree failures ....

*** 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 newspaper cuttings have shown multiple Tree Failures in different parts of HK in the past 2 weeks alone. This Station is convinced that not every Tree Failure would be detected by the media & it may be true that among our 9 Govt Depts touching trees that no single Dept can master all counts of Tree Failures within our territory, even though HK is a tiny dot on the map. Our Mature Trees have now become our time bombs gradually.

As said in previous Station Mail, if trees are not selected, installed, maintained & inspected properly & regularly, they would become more of a liability rather than an asset. Facts after facts have shown there is something wrong with our now Mature Trees. Yet Arborists in HK are just standing & watching, not be able to get much involved due to we play hardly any part in the current system. Somehow this Station wonders how our overseas partners would like to look upon us as ? Some kind of ???

While reading the newspaper cuttings for our Chinese readers, please kindly focus only on the underlined portions of the messages & disregard the commentary from the reporters. This Station does not have reporter of our own & has to extract information from the media for Tree Failures. This Station does not feel by penalizing anybody would help the situation & Prevention is always better than Cure. The general direction should be that to minimize the chance of accident in the first place, rather than laying the blame on the Depts for the aftermath.

Some of the commentary of the media have been very critical of the District Land Office (DLO) which would be regarded as unnecessary by this Station, simply because DLO are no experts on trees. DLO officers are not Arborist & how can they be relied upon to assess trees? Any assessment or recommendation on tree affairs would not be carried out by a Land Officer in Europe, America & Singapore. The Arboricultural Office there will be responsible for this kind of work. In HK, since we do not have an Arboricultural Office in equivalent to Western Nations, one immediate solution would be for DLO to employ or require Arborist Services to carry out assessment for tree work, such as recommendation for felling, transplanting & pruning. Only if an Arborist Report can be attached for such application, DLO can rather safely consider the outcome because Arborist Reports are legally sensitive. No good Arborist would like to write his/her report carelessly & put down his/her Certification no. He/She can be sued. The Station Manager has presented Arborist Reports in One Beacon Hill in Kowloon Tong & is doing it in Leung King Estate in Tuen Mun right now. It has been working so far so good. There are currently 41 Certified Arborists (CA) in HK & the number is increasing after every exam in April/October. This Station particularly recommends the employment of those CA in our CA Family (only 26 no.) due to their further training & special commitment in the CA Family.

The performance of our Mature Trees recently have been rather disappointing. They failed like dead flies. When they damaged properties or obstructed traffic, the public outcried. Something should be done with our Mature Trees before more failures would happen, like immediate inspection & hazard assessment. If we can not do them all immediately due to the vast numbers, we should at least make a start on the most obvious. Otherwise, we'll carry on to hear screams here & there...

This Station does not really know whether it is a good thing right now to have our trees maturing year after year in HK/China. Why do we have to enter into a state like this ??

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager

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