Thursday, August 16, 2007

ISA HK/China --- ChinaTree News (Why China can not produce quality Landscaping Trees?)

*** 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,

The attached piece of news came out from a national newspaper in China. It showed a 'Model Tree Farm' in China producing what they would reckon as 'quality landscaping tree'.

By international standards, arborists would look at a quality landscaping tree for the followings:

1. Central Leader --- A straight stem from bottom to top for growth form prediction & good structure.

2. Taper --- Trunk & branch narrowing from base to tip for maximum wind resistance.

3. Live Crown Ratio (LCR) --- Height of foliage / Height of tree. A 67% LCR is most desirable because it proves the tree has enough foliage to carry out Photosynthesis & good wind resistance.

4. Strong Branch Attachment (SBA) --- Diameter of branch / Diameter of Stem to be less than 0.5 at point of union for SBA. This is for good wind resistance against breakage.

5. Adequate Sized Rootball --- Recommended rootball size is 10 x DBH for maximum transplantation survivability & rapid recovery after transplantation.

The above are just a few of the most obvious requirement for good nursery stocks in Western Nations.

Let's now see whether this 'Model Tree Farm' can meet the international requirements.

1. Central Leader --- The Central Leaders for a lot of trees so shown went straight up for a while, but then branched out to form Co-dominant Stems or Multi-Branching.

2. Taper --- hardly any Taper can be detected from these trees.

3. Live Crown Ratio --- Most of the trees have a LCR below 40% as far as the picture can tell.

4. Strong Branch Attachment --- At the branch unions, it can be seen that SBA does not happen for a lot of the shown trees, making them vulnerable to break in wind.

5. Adequate Sized Rootball --- The trees were planted very close to one another. It appeared that the tress were only 2 m apart. During lifting, especially for the trees in the centre, roots of the adjacent trees will get in the way. To drag a tree so heavy & tall from the middle of the planting in this scenario, machines rather than humans would need to be deployed. However, machines are unlikely to enter this jungle of trees while they are planted so close to each other & human labour would seem to be the cheapest alternative. And how much heavy can human labour uplift ?? If not, the rootball will have to be trimmed very small to facilitate lifting & the tree is likely to be topped for dragging out among other trees. The trees so seen grown in a 'good' form will come out like match sticks with football-sized rootballs for use in the landscape.

Then why can't our brothers & sisters try to produce landscaping trees to international requirements?

It is because they produce trees with their forestry production methods. Forestry trees are produced for economic values & Taper, Live Crown Ratio & Strong Branch Attachment are not desired. Forestry trees will be logged out at the end & therefore a 10 x DBH rootball is not a consideration. In commercial consideration, who would like to buy a wooden pillar with Taper & SBA anyway? Excessive branches are wastes & will require labour to cut off. Then the wastes would require transport to dump. Customers would buy only clean logs without branching & very straight stem without rootball. Our brothers & sisters are simply producing landscaping trees in a complete wrong manner !!

What is seemingly hard to change in China is not the construction of the nation, but the mentality of the people. In Chinese, we say ' 江山易改,品性难移'. For those of us who must buy from the Chinese & have to follow their supplying standards, we wish them good luck. However, bringing them down to our territory is likely to increase maintenance & to produce Tree Failures in the longer run. We may buy cheap for a quick fix, but ruin our landscape for our children. The many Tree Failures in the past year have given facts for themselves. Is that not even good enough to make us think twice? If not, why not ??

Would anyone now doubt why ETF was set up 3 years ago to give an example of quality landscaping trees to our brothers & sisters in China?

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

ISA HK/China --- HK Tree News (Aftermath of the falling apart of the 200 year old 'Champion' Ficus

*** 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,

Further to the media report of the falling apart of the 200 year old 'Champion' Ficus by the newspapers yesterday, the event was shown at the Main News at 6.30 pm at TVB as a rare occasion. More media comments are given in the attached newspaper cutting & the link below:

This Station felt that this incident has attracted more publicity than the falling branches of the Wishing Tree in Tai Po in 2005, maybe because the public has grown with arboricultural knowledge & would not be satisfied with traditional explanation anymore.

In both media comment & private conversation, this Station has heard only criticism about the treatment this poor tree has received, & sadly never any support on LCSD's explanation. The general sentiment is that of disappointment. Criticism ranged from doubting the ability of LCSD to look after our Mature Trees & even hinted the change of the Tung Govt in 2005 could be related to the falling of the branches of the Wishing Tree !! Our media has truly fascinating imagination indeed.

Station Mail is written with facts & professional arbor knowledge, & is never meant to attack anybody. On the other hand, Station Mail is circulated to the media & is on Blog ( The media also frequently call up the Station Manager for comments on tree affairs in our territory. Therefore, they have found ways to study modern arboriculture through straight or narrow.

From all the evidence gathered, this 200 year old 'Champion's Ficus seems to be entering a ' Spiral of Decline' already & very little can be done to it for full recovery. The newly grown part would be attacked by the decaying part because the defense system of this Mature Tree seems to be very weak already. At present, it is rather like an Aids patient receiving a cocktail treatment of medicines. The medicines may prolong life of the patient for a while, but could not prevent the eventual reality, which is death.

From the state it is observed, if this dying 'Champion' Ficus would ever recover to its former glory, it may become the ' 8th Wonder of the Tree World' & a detailed Station Mail will have to be produced to announce such achievement to the ISA World ! Station Mail is nowadays circulated overseas to many Govt Depts & Institutes, & is influential.

If this tree would die, uproar may arise among the media all over town. Our media have never seemed to be happy about the treatment of our many ailing Mature Trees anyway. They would be like sharks hunting blood & would open the history book on our Mature trees to count the numbers. Someone may have to take the blame.

What is happening now for this 'Champion' Ficus may also spread to other Govt Dept looking after trees, since there are altogether 9 Govt Depts involved with Greenery in HK. Greenery or Environmental issues can not ignore trees.

This poor tree is now stuck at a dead end. Apparently very little can be done to it for full recovery. The only imaginary solution would be to consult our Mainland Chinese brothers & sisters for any' Magic Cure' to save this tree. If it does not work at the end, they can take the blame & let the media go after them ...

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager

ISA HK/China --- HK Tree News (Falling apart of the 200 year old 'Champion' Ficus)

*** 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,

As predicted by many, the 200 year old 'Champion' Ficus eventually fell off 1/3 of its tree parts at 1 pm yesterday in the rain. It hit & trapped a passer-by, & scared him to pieces. Luckily, the victim was caught between branches & escaped with only a scratch. He may never stand underneath a Mature Tree in HK in future after this event.

The report of this incident is captured in the attachment & in the newspaper links below:

It appears that the media has been collecting better history & data of the Mature Trees of HK than this Station. One media has also the excellent foresight to urge the Govt to require an Arborist Report in Tree Work which can be defined as Tree Selection, Tree Installation, Tree Maintenance, Tree Pruning, Tree Transplantation, Tree Inspection, Tree Risk Management & Tree Preservation in Construction Site.
A lot of the Tree Work mentioned will require Tree Climbing. ISA HK/China has already linked up with CUGE in Singapore & Tree Climbing International to provide such training overseas. Our Govt has made laws against Tree climbing in our urban parks & housing estates in the name of safety, & even qualified Tree Climbers are not allowed to climb trees with international safety standards in HK at present.

Arboriculture is all about proper Tree Care & Arborists are trained to look after trees from cradle to death. Arborists are Tree Doctors & Tree Detectives. Arborists in HK/China is governed by the ISA HK/China Station & our Station believes in Integrity, Professionalism & Participation with an attitude of fact-finding & truth-telling. Our Station maintains good discipline & high respect for our Station Members & our CA Family. Arborist in the CA Family are selected individuals to abide to the Code of Honour required of a Professional Arborist. Eviction from the CA Family is the highest disgrace that any Arborist can receive in the HK/China Region. A simple phone call or e-mail to this Station can confirm anybody in the CA Family or not.

Our Station works like a Gymnastic Contest in our discipline. Any Station Member coming in will receive a full mark of 10. If a Station Member does not comply with our Code of Honour, marks will be deducted to until he/she will be terminated. Any terminated Station Member may never re-join this Station as a matter of respect to our Station. Termination is more painful than prison for an Arborist. Eviction from the CA Family may be announced in public Station Mail.

Therefore, Arborists have established ourselves with a new position in the landscape industry in the HK/China Region. In the 2.5 years of history among the current 41 no. Certified Arborists in our territory, this Station has not received one single complaint for mal-practice of any of our Arborists in public or private communication. This Station intends to keep up our image in this manner & let Arborist be someone to be respected in our landscape industry.

Some Govt Depts will be sending large number of candidates to attend the CA exam later this October. This Station hopes the graduated CA from these Govt Depts can join us & carry on our tradition, so that the Arborist Profession will become a breath of fresh air in our Greenery development.

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager