Saturday, October 27, 2007

ISA HK/China --- HK Tree News (Shing Mun River's 'Tree Murder'?'

*** Our weekly 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. Please note Station Mail is sometimes given in Blog at http://isahkchina.blogspot.com , although images are usually not attached due to size. ***

Dear Mr. X,

Thank you for your phone call & your direction for us to look into the attached newspaper cutting. We have noticed that you are not our Station Member but are able to gain access to our information for which you are welcomed. We are also accepting your challenge to openly reply your enquiry & to protect your identity which we actually do not know much anyway. On the other hand, we want to assure you that there is no such thing as 'change of wind' of our Station policies upon your knowledge of LCSD staff taking part in our recent Certified Arborist exam. Our values of Integrity, Professionalism & Participation with an attitude of fact-finding & truth-telling have remained constant.

In your request for us to comment on the event of your so-called ' Tree Murder ' at Shing Mun River, our Station is taking up the position of Tree Detective instead of Tree Doctor in the investigation. However, please kindly note that we are commenting with only the given facts & photos in the attachment & we do not have time to study the situation on site. Sending someone out on site for a detailed reporting will involve cost, & the current Professional Fess Guidelines of ISA HK/China would recommend a fee of HK$10,000.00 for an Independent Tree Assessment (ITA) report of this kind for about two trees in a day. Therefore, here you get a limited reply for free, but only with what this Station has seen in the attachment.

May we first advise you that the Station Manager has done ITA report of this kind on many occasions for various Govt Depts & public in the past. He is also currently acting as an Independent Tree Specialist (ITS) to the HKSAR Govt on several projects & he has produced Expert Witness reports at High Court for tree related disputes. He may be a fair & just person for this kind of reply to you.

In the newspaper cutting so shown, the Besser blocks would impede the flow of water & fertilizer application into the tree roots, but they would not stop them altogether. Water can leak through the gaps between the Besser blocks & reach the roots underneath, or the trees so shown would not be growing with such foliage density. One way to determine whether the roots are developing or not under the Besser blocks is to open them up for a visual inspection. You may wish to apply for permission to do this at the authorities if desperately interested. Facts will convince everybody better.

Trees generally do not require heavy fertilization like shrubs or smaller plants. The Arborist education would recommend an annual application of around 2kg/100 sqm for most trees in a general situation. For trees of inadequate health, we would recommend fixing the problem before fertilizer application, rather than the other way round. This may be contrary to what you may have learned from other sources in the past. Facts will tell you that trees growing in our AFCD country parks do not receive much regular fertilization from human application. Don't these trees perform?

What this Station would see as a challenge would really be that the trees so shown were planted too close to the boundary wall of other planting area which may lead to root cutting on the wall side. This may render wind instability when the trees have matured & there does not appear too much can be done to it. Remember, if a tree is not designed, planted & maintained properly, the tree may become more of a liability rather than an asset. In this theme, the design & quality stocks selection are of primary importance if we want to see an easy maintenance afterwards.

We wish our reply now can assist you to understand how a Professional Arborist would view an event as such. Arborists are practitioners & we tend to look at situation in a practical sense. Please do not mix us up with other disciplines with our due respect to others. However, we have our own professional direction to follow & we prefer to speak with facts.

You are always welcomed to provide feedback, although this Station may not publish it by open Station Mail each time. If you would like to go into this investigation further, this Station would advise you to employ a Certified Arborist to carry out an Independent Tree Assessment with the approval of the concerned authority, although the site work & reporting would cost you.

Thank you for your interest in our communication & we hope this reply will find you well.

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager
ISA HK/China Station ManagerISA Chief Proctor for the HK/China RegionISA Certified Arborist / Certified Tree Climber no. ML-0174AT
Member of Tree Climbers International (TCI) in HK/China RegionInternational Tree Failure Database (ITFD) Coordinator for HK/China
Independent Tree Specialist (ITS) to the HKSAR Govt
Lecturer for Tree Supervision at CITA

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