Thursday, September 6, 2007

ISA HK/China --- Announcement of Concurrent Training Sessions at ETF

Dear Station Members & Anybody,

It is agreed by any arborist that arboriculture is a living & practising profession. Arborists must ' touch trees', other than books & computers. Our Station has always tried to find opportunity for our Station Members, CA or not, to get their hands into the practical side of arboriculture for complete learning. Here now comes the chance at ETF. ETF will eventually become the training centre for ISA development in Mainland China with its 20,000 trees grown to international requirement, & with a concrete climbing frame plus maturing trees for future Tree Climbing.

Please note there is now a concurrent training session of Basic Tree Climbing (BTC), Pruning Demonstration & Taxonomy/ISA Tree Standards has been arranged for our Station Members & anybody interested as follows:

Date : Sunday Oct 7, 2007

Time : 9.30 am departing Huang Gang Boarder in Shenzhen, & departing ETF at approx. 5pm to reach Huang Gang Boarder again at around 7pm on the same day.

Venue : Eurasian Tree Farm (ETF) in Guangzhou, China

Cost : Free of charge for the training sessions. Transport, meal & other costs will be shared evenly among participants.

Contents of Training :

BTC : This session is designed for beginners without or with very little proper tree climbing experience on a rope & hardness in climbing a tree. Basic body-thrust technique will be given to anyone willing to test himself/herself whether he/she has enough body muscles to climb a tree. Basic safety lanyard tie-in & basic limb walking for a maximum of 3 m will be performed on an artificial tree frame. PPE & climbing equipment will be provided free of charge & shared. However, do bring along your own industrial safety boots for climbing. If raining, use & inspection of PPE, climbing knots & structural pruning will be taught instead.

Pruning Demonstration : Proper tools & cutting techniques will be shown on real trees. Crown Cleaning & Structural Pruning will be demonstrated on Young Trees to achieve health & structure. Safety in using & maintenance of tools will be explained. Selection of tools & location of various cuts will be demonstrated.

Tree ID/ISA Tree Standards : Skills in identifying trees will be given with basic knowledge in Taxonomy to be explained. Keys to Identification for any plant will be explained in ascertaining species. Trees can be identified from growth form, foliage, flower, fruit, bark & ascent. All these parts will be explained in details & examples given on real trees. The ISA Tree Standards of Central Leader, Live Crown Ratio, Strong Branch Attachment, Spiral Staircase Scaffolds, 10 x DBH Rootball diameter, Radial Spread of Roots, no mechanical wounding larger than 5cm, etc. will be explained with ETF trees. Trees already selected for export to Singapore will be shown to candidates for the quality required by international standards.


1. Mr. KM Li --- Mr. Li has over 20 years of Tree Climbing experience at LCSD. Mr. Li has performed tree work on hundreds of tree species in HK in normal or stormy conditions. Mr. Li is well trained with the latest tree climbing techniques & skills.

2. Mr. Tong Ng --- Tony has been trained in the UK for arbor practices & has been awarded the TPNC credential. Tony has involved with chainsaw & pruning training, at LCSD & in the private sector. Tony has over 20 years of experience in local arbor work.

3. Mr. CC Poon --- Mr. Poon is the Supervisor of Kowloon Tree Gang of LCSD. He has over 20 years of experience working in the arbor field & has been trained for Tree ID & Tree Standards in many occasions.

No. of Participants : 40 persons only because of the seats in the hired bus. Please not the booking will be made on a first come first served basis.

Estimated Cost : We expect the cost per person should be around RMB 200.00 for sharing transport, lunch & sundries.

CEU : 3 CEU will be awarded for any CA/CTW attending the full 3 hour session.

Station Activity : This is a Station Activity eligible for entry requirement of CA Family. Anyone is allowed to join this training session, whether Station Member or not, in the name of our Participation into our community.

Who should participate? : Station Members without or with less than 5 rounds of proper tree climbing training with a rope & hardness. Anyone who wants to test himself/herself out to see whether he/she is fit enough to climb. Anyone has learned pruning in theory but has not seen it in practice should come & join. Anyone who has doubts on Tree ID & anyone has not seen the quality of ISA Trees in action should come & find out why they are superior to ordinary China trees. Since all sessions are run concurrently, anyone can attend one session (BTC?) for 30 minutes & then join another training group afterwards. Mixing & swapping are encouraged. This afternoon is guaranteed to be an exciting & decision making task for all those who are coming. Please note children under the age of 15 is not allowed to join for safety reason.

Why learn to climb? : Tree Climbing, be it professional or recreational, is an excellent mental & physical exercise. There are now over 19, 000 CA in ISA but less than 700 CTW. Tree Climbers belong to a special breed & they are surely proud to be. Tree Climbing is necessary for aerial inspection during tree assessment, & for structural pruning & rigging. Sometimes Tree Climber is employed to remove bird nest or even saving a cat. Wildlife observation is frequently coupled with Tree Climbing for camera installation & establishing visual station. Besides, when you are on top of a tree, all you would think is how not to fall, & not your worries & stresses anymore. Tree Climbers are usually physically & mentally fit, & long living. They tend to be good singers chanting tunes during their way up.

Condition of Joining : Please note no insurance will be provided against injury or accident of any kind during this trip & during the training session. Nobody including the ISA HK/China Station, the Station Manager or anybody else will accept any responsibility or liability for personal loss or accident of any kind during any part of the trip or training. Please purchase your own individual travel insurance if you need it. Anyone joining in is assumed to have accepted the Condition of Joining stated here. The training is given in good faith that the trainee is in good physical & mental condition to accept the training. The Station Manager has absolute authority to terminate the training to anybody if he regards the trainee is unsuitable to take up the training anytime for safety consideration. The Station Manager has also the authority to evict anybody in middle of the trip or training if he finds the participant uncooperative with the instructions.

Cancellation: If less than 20 bookings are received by 5 pm of Oct 5, the trip & training will be cancelled with immediate notice.

This is another occasion that ETF is opening up for BTC & other training for Station Members who have been forlornly enquiring for practical training opportunity for which the Station Manager can only do free of charge if at ETF which is at his disposal when without liability of any kind. We expect enthusiastic response for this training. Even before this notice was due to appear, 12 Station Members have already signed their names on through phone calls after they have been whispered. News really travelled fast for our Station Activities. Please therefore send in your booking ASAP to avoid disappointment.

Looking forward to making this training session another successful event at ETF like many others in the past.

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

ISA HK/China --- Oct CA exam details

Dear Station Members & Anybody,

It is the pleasure of this Station to announce that an ISA Certified Arborist (CA) exam will be arranged in the HK/China Region as follows:

Date: Thursday, 25 October, 2007

Time: 4.30pm - 8.30pm

Venue: Assembly Hall, Fung Kai No. 1 Secondary School, 17 Sheung Shui Jockey Club Road, Sheung Shui, Hong Kong

Maximum number of seats : 80 candidates, on a first come first served basis

Deadline of Application to ISA Headquarters : 4 October, 2007 (All Candidates MUST apply on-line to ISA HQ at & inform this Station at the same time for local record. Missing records can not be helped on our side if not given. Those who are re-taking the exam must follow the instructions stated in the ISA exam result letter.

Please kindly note the exam may be cancelled or postponed for unforeseen events such as the hoisting of typhoon signal no. 8 or higher, or Black Rainstorm Signal in force, or for any other reason. The candidate can always call the Station Manager at 9090 6719 on the exam day to make sure, if in doubt. Please kindly note ISA exams in the HK/China Region are run by volunteers without pay at their own time & expenses for the benefits of Station Members & public. Please have pity on them.

For those of you who are not yet ISA HK/China Station Members, we would encourage you to join us for update in local tree affairs & ISA activities including exams & training in our region of HK,Macau, Taiwan & China. ISA HK/China organizes ISA activities qualified for CEU after you have become a CA. All ISA Credentials are only valid for 3 years at present & all CA/CTW will need to collect enough CEU in this period to renew their status. Our Station can provide that usually free of training cost. Alternatively, you may wish to visit our Blog of for additional information, although most images are not attached there due to size.

Thank you for your kind attention.

best regards,

Sammy Au
ISA HK/China Station Manager
ISA Chief Proctor for the HK/China Region
ISA Certified Arborist / Certified Tree Climber no.ML-0174AT
International Tree Failures Database Coordinator for the HK/China Region
Independent Tree specialist to the HKSAR Govt
Lecturer of Tree Supervision at CITA

Monday, September 3, 2007

ISA HK/China --- Big Spreading Trees in Hawaii

*** 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 , although images are usually not attached due to size. ***

Dear Station Members,

On the last day of the 2007 ISA International Conference, a walking tour was organized by the Hawaiian Society of Commercial Arborists to visit their city & park trees. What was most impressive for the Station Manager was to see the many Big Spreading Trees growing in city parks of Honolulu for public enjoyment. A few photos of them are attached for general information & comparison with the Shade Trees growing currently in our parks & open areas in HK/China.

It can be seen that the crown diameters of these Big Spreading Trees are normally over 40 m & the Live Crown Ratio (Height of Foliage / Total Height ) is generally over 60%. This shows that the trees are having adequate foliage to produce carbohydrate from Photosynthesis & will have good wind resistance due to their low Centre of Gravity. It can be also noticed that these trees have been structurally pruned all the way & incorrect pruning such as Topping or Lion-Tailed Pruning was not detected in the canopy. There were hardly any decay, cankers, galls & mechanical damage on the tree body, showing that the trees were maintained in good health. It was very apparent that these Mature Trees have been given good care all the way so that they can grow to such aesthetics, health & structure.

How often do we see Big Spreading Trees in our city parks & open areas as comparable to these in Hawaii, no matter in public or private properties?

Some would say HK has not got the space to accommodate Big Spreading Trees. This Station would argue that if we do have space to plant just one Big Spreading Tree, at least 10 smaller trees would be installed instead to occupy the same area. It seems that we tend to enjoy quantity, never mind the quality.

Imagine how inconvenient it is to manoeuvre under 10 tree trunks & branches rather than just one in the same space. Can we cycle or stroll under 10 trunks without bumping into one by accident? Then what about the competition for water & nutrients of 10 poor trees all squeezed together in a tiny forest. Would pests & diseases not spread faster for 10 trees? Would it not be another HK housing condition in the 1960's ??

Tree Selection in HK would generally go for 'flowering' as the priority because some reckon that colour & scent are the primary amenity of a tree. Some do not understand that what's seen flowering in books or computers may not flower at all on site, becasue flowering requires success in vegetative growth beforehand. Then how many of us would consider the amenity values of the ' flowering' tree after flowering. Also, do flowers stay on forever? Of course not, probable for something like a month at most for general species. Would anyone then query the wind resistance ability of the ' flowering' species so selected? The answer may be found in the many urban trees fallen after a small typhoon. Trees with a lot of flowers usually belong to weak wood & facts speak for themselves. For Arborist, it is always ' Mother Nature makes the rules, not us.'

The Station Manager has seen trees in Singapore mostly selected for health & structure to cool their city, with 'flowering' as a secondary consideration or just bonus. After all, flowers on trees are usually carried at the outer perimeter of canopy to attract birds & insects for reproduction, not for any purpose of we humans. They can hardly be touched or smelled unless you climb close. Then how many of us are Tree Climbers?

Trees in Singapore are recognized to be a great success & a valuable asset to their country. As a rule, trees are always selected by Arborists in Singapore in Govt landscapes.

Are Big Spreading Trees difficult to grow? The answer is no, but we need to master some basics. Arborists would have all the answers because they are the true Tree Care Professionals. To begin with, we need to select the right species with good nursery quality, & give them room above & below ground to grow. Structural Pruning is of paramount importance. Without corrective pruning, even the best nursery stocks in the world would grow wild in an urban environment. Then regular Tree Inspection & Risk Assessment are required to maintain health & structure, & to minimize hazards. Tree Climbing will be required for such work to penetrate inside the canopy. Platform lift can usually reach the outside of the canopy & may conflict with protruding branches.

Now we can see how the different knowledge of arboriculture are knitted together to produce Big Spreading Trees. Parts to be missed out in the operation will be like a broken chain. A complete treatment for a tree is like a complete diet for a person. There is simply no shortcut.

Big Spreading Trees are of such aesthetics & amenity values that we should develop them in HK/China. They are the genuine 'trees' described in our textbooks & they are loved by the public. Then are there any Big Spreading Trees anywhere in our urban area maintained in quality comparable to these ordinary Hawaiian park trees ? Station Mail would love to collect some photos to show the world indeed. This will make us proud.

A lot of the Big Spreading Trees so visited in Hawaii belonged to no more than ordinary Ficus, Samanea & Crataeva species. They are no magic to us in HK, but their proper tree care is magic.

In Hawaii, people were seen enjoying themselves under the relaxation of the Big Spreading Trees. Peace of mind can be felt while resting under the tree canopy, despite the ambient temperature of 32 C around. The benefits of trees can be truly appreciated when one is standing under or looking from a distance at these magnificent trees.

HK seems to be cooking political turmoil after 1997. Our public spent too much time in politics to grind heat for no positive results. If they would spend just a part of that time as an alternative on caring for our trees, maybe we can have a much more harmonious society for better living. In the rural past, villagers talked a lot about their trees. Trees were part of the community. We don't seem to hear this kind of conversation often these days. Is it because we keep losing our Mature Trees?

Maybe when our ' Victoria Park Uncles' in HK came to rest under these magnificent Big Spreading Trees, their conversation would change from political argument to measuring & comparing trees nearby. Would that not be the 'harmonic society' that our current Govt genuinely desire?

Big Spreading Trees are magic indeed. Do we want them, & how ??

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager