Thursday, October 11, 2007

ISA HK/China --- Review of LAO PN 7/2007 Tree Preservation in Private Develpment

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Dear Station Members,

This Station has recently received a copy of the latest Lands Administration Office (LAO) Practice Note (PN) no. 7/2007 on the latest policy in Tree Preservation in Private Projects, & has taken a quick review of its contents for the interest of our Station Members.

This Station has found the PN 7/2007 is perhaps the best & most updated among all PN's so far issued with regard to Tree Preservation for Private Projects in our territory. It is written in administrative English meant for the understanding of professionals. Lesser laymen may find it hard to fully appreciate the contents & the intention. This PN can be downloaded at http://sc.info.gov.hk/gb/www.landsd.gov.hk/en/legco/lpn.htm but patience may be required to await speed which may appear rather slow at times.

Measures are taken very seriously & clearly in this latest PN for Tree Preservation not previously adopted for Private Projects. This PN has laid out procedures & methods to go about the planning & execution with regard to tree affairs on private development down to efficiency not detected in previous PN before. This PN appears to be written with deep consultation with Arboricultural Professionals in its many international practice recommended, which has made this PN an advancement in saving our precious trees in private development indeed.

There are major points deserving the attention of our Station Members in this PN:

a. Self-Certification of Compliance (SCC) --- Instead of requiring an official inspection by Lands Dept (LandsD) for the Certificate of Compliance (CC) on the Compensatory Planting upon the completion of the private project, this PN gives suggestion that the lot owner can now appoint a Registered Landscape Architect (RLA) to submit a SCC to certify that the Tree Works have been implemented in accordance with the approved application. On the other hand, LandsD reserves the right to randomly inspect the SCC & may challenge the opposite if found. This will save valuable time & administration for both the lot owner & the Govt, but place a heavier liability on the RLA for the inspection.

b. Competent Person (CP) Status --- In para 15 of the PN & in para 2b of the Appendix II, the position of a Competent Person is brought in to be recognized alongside the RLA for works such as Tree Survey, Tree Works Supervision & Tree Assessment. The definition of CP is that of any person who possesses a professional or vocational qualification in horticulture, arboriculture &/or tree care, & he/she also has minimum 1 year of closely related post-qualification local experience. This Station interprets that any experienced Certified Arborist (CA) with good knowledge & social standing will be qualified to enter this rank of CP to carry out the required work, although the final decision rests upon the Govt. CA appears to indirectly obtain an official status in our Govt system this time.

c. Requirement of Proper Arboricultural Practice --- In Appendix II 'Guidance Notes on Preparing Submission to LandsD' for Tree Survey Plans, Tree assessment & Other Advisory Notes for Good Practice in Tree Care, etc., international arbor practice is quoted for recommendation to determine Tree Retention, Tree Transplantation, Tree Planting & Pruning. Furthermore, Transit Nursery is no longer required, Topping is prohibited, & Pruning Guidelines are given to imitate international practice. This is an excellent improvement indeed ! Yes, this PN is going to adopt international practice & ISA begins with an 'I'. If experienced CA's are not qualified to work to such requirements, please kindly tell us who then...

This good PN has indirectly brought in the service of Arborists for design & supervision in Tree Survey, Tree Assessment, Tree Transplantation & Tree Pruning, which are all specialist training of experienced CA. We very much feel the status of CA in HK is gradually receiving recognition by our Govt & public day by day. This rapid development in our local arboriculture is unprecedented in the landscape history in HK & this Station is truly grateful for the wisdom of our Govt. On the other hand, this Station will continue to supervise our Arborists to serve well our community as a duty, & to upgrade the quality of living of our loving city with better trees.

In order not to have our younger CA's getting it over their heads with the current good news, this Station wishes to emphasize that the CA credential is really regarded internationally as a threshold to push open the gate of Professional Arboriculture. The road ahead is long & winding, & the CA must not stop at just collecting the credential. Many practical skills in Pruning, Tree Climbing, Tree Inspection, Risk Assessment, Diagnosis & Treatment, Legal Consultation & many others, are not tested in the CA credential at present. Upon the application of skills on site for any arbor service, all knowledge will be required & CA is liable to a higher Duty of Care in Court. Getting the CA is really a start & not an end. CA must be forever learning & this Station will try its best to provide.

For our younger CA's, it is also important to note that CA & CTW in ISA HK/China Station are required to comply with the principles of Integrity, Professionalism & Participation with an attitude of fact-finding & truth-telling. By maintaining these values, the CA profession will be respected in our community for a long time.

In the realistic situation in HK for landscape project submission, it may be true that the RLA firms would be stronger in documentation & drawing (including AutoCAD) provision, whereas the practising CA's tend more to be more working individuals well versed in site work. The two professions should really come to support each other in both paper & practical work to match the requirements of this latest PN for the benefit of the clients. Both should be winners & competition should not exist. This has been proven in the work of the Station Manager in past for Govt & Private Projects alongside with major landscape consultancy firms for difficult tree matters. With an open attitude of cooperation & mutual objective, no obstacle is too strong to overcome.

This Station will urge our Station Members to positively study the contents of this very useful PN if you are working in the relevant field. You may also wish to contact the Govt Depts for further explanation with regard to any enquiry in the contents of this PN.

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager

The ISA Mission - Through research, technology, and education, promote the professional practice of arboriculture and foster a greater public awareness of the benefits of trees. (www.isa-arbor.com)

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