Monday, September 24, 2007

ISA HK/China --- HK Tree News (Moving 850 trees for a Bicycle Track in Yuen Long)

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Dear Station Members,

Attached is a recent set of local news describing some tree disturbance in the Yuen Long area for the proposal to build a Bicycle Track. Some 850 no. of trees would need to be removed or transplanted owing to the construction. Some District Board members were raising concern with removing trees & would opt for transplantation. The general sentiment may be that by transplanting the affected trees, they would be saved from destruction.

Form an Arborist's point of view, trying to save trees not worth saving would cost time, money & efforts for a political exercise which may run into potential tree failures at the end. If those trees were growing in poor structure & health, or if those trees can not be transplanted with proper management (rootball, transport & future growing space), the transplanted trees would become more of a liability rather than an asset after all the time & effort spent. Have we not seen this happening many times in the past all over HK ? Do we call those topped trees after transplantation a proper 'Tree Preservation' ?

In an assessment of this kind, Arborists should be involved, be them from the Govt Dept or private consultancy. The landscape consultant could carry out the initial tree survey with their better facilities in documentation & CAD, but the Arborist should review in details of those trees recommended for retention, transplantation & removal with their better knowledge in Tree Care. The Arborist should study & recommend which trees to keep, move or fell with their professional judgment with justification to be reflected in an Arborist Report.

Certified Arborist (CA) in ISA HK/China will need to abide the Code of Honour of Integrity, Professionalism & Participation with an attitude of fact-finding & truth-telling in their work. Any breach of these in any way may lead to serious discipline by ISA HK/China, besides the CA involved may find him/herself liable to civil action in Court. Arborist Report is no flirting indeed.

At the District Board level, the Arborist can represent the Govt to explain the required tree movement to the politicians with facts & professional knowledge. Arborist has to speak out with facts & truth, not point of view. Aesthetic or species is usually a secondary consideration when safety is an issue. After all, what's good is it to have a 'good looking' tree, if it would fail to hit someone at the end? If the politicians do not like what is being told, then it will be ' Mother Nature makes the rules, not anybody ' to them. Arborist can not compromise facts & truth with politics. The politicians will have to bear the legal & moral responsibilities of tree failures in future if they do not listen, nobody else.

So, that's how a good Arborist would tackle a job like this. In HK today, we do not have an Arboricultural Office in our Govt like in western countries to handle all our tree affairs. It appears to be the administrators talking to the politicians on tree affairs most of the time. Would they do the same in a medical situation ?

HK may change for the better in handling our tree affairs eventually ...

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager

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