Wednesday, November 25, 2009

ISA HK/China --- HK Tree News (Poor Tree Selection for property damages)

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Dear Station Members,

The media cutting underneath described how yet another case of Tree Planting has failed & repeatedly damaged properties nearby. The local politician proposed to 'strengthen' Tree Protection in order to minimize any future Tree Failure in strong wind such as typhoons which would be subject to professional scrutiny of Practicing Arborists since we understand it is very difficult to erect trees against typhoon for the newly planted.

It is all too common in HK that we hear the maintenance party is not doing the job right to care & protect the trees. However, the international understanding would be that if a tree is not selected & planted right in the beginning, future maintenance would be expensive & usually ineffective. This fact has been reiterated in ISA discussion many a times & it is agreed by Practicing Arborists all over the world.

ISA believes in the 'Right Tree in the Right Place' for any fruitful Tree Planting. If a tree is selected poorly by species, location & in poor quality, with the planting process damaging the rootball or the rootball miniaturized during packing for transport convenience & cost saving, then no matter in what name of 'flowering', 'scent' or 'good-looking', it will be 'Mother Nature makes the Rules' for the result. This tree would usually grow poorly, become sick easily, & then eventually become a Time Bomb to fail in wind to give us public inconveniences. International experience has shown that when such a tree is maintained for whatsoever reason, the running cost would be high & rectification treatment would be mostly ineffective in the long run.

Then the critics would shout blue murder at the maintenance parties when they see trees degrading to poor conditions as such. Would they think why the trees have become such a state in the first place? Would this also be a fair judgment in a civilized & democratic society like HK supposed to believe in the Rule of Law ??

It appears to be all so easy nowadays to criticize in our society where not giving a constructive solution at the same time. Would such practice enhance the quality of Tree Planting in the long run?

The intention to set up the Tree Management Office (TMO) in HK is likely to resolve our Tree Planting problems gradually. Rome was not built in a day & the public must have patience & tolerance to untie a knot so big & complicated left over from history. What the TMO might have interest in & priority to look into would be first of all the Roadside Trees where traffic & pedestrians rolling constantly underneath. This is the most high risk area whereas one of such trees killed a young lady in Stanley in Aug 2008. The TMO may also contemplate to eventually forbid planting big spreading species like the Ficus which would develop naturally a tree crown of +20m wide if undisturbed. This species may be 'good looking' in the beginning but turning into a liability later. There may also be other towering species planted in narrow streets in the name of 'flowering' or 'scent' but with high failure potential. Michelia alba is one of them. The TMO should set reviewing & approving such Tree Planting in consideration of public safety.

ISA HK/China has high hope on the TMO to provide our community with good & safe trees for social benefits. We would also like to see HK leading the role of international Tree planting in the China Region with our TMO.

For this we shall set patience to expect.

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager

"If a tree is not designed, installed, maintained & inspected properly, it is likely to become a liability rather than an asset."

"Trees are good for the community. Trees need care like human beings. Arborists are the Tree Care Professionals."








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