Sunday, August 30, 2009

ISA HK/China --- HK Tree News (DP on Tree Law)

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Dear Station Members,

Below is yet another piece of HK News re-asserting the cry for a local Tree Law to protect any tree from interference, even for those which are outside the lease control in current Land Regulation. In principle, the intention is all good for Tree Preservation in our territory.

On the other hand, ISA HK/China would draw our Station Member's attention to the following issues not mentioned but worth considering in the preparation of any Tree Law in HK:

1. By enacting a Tree Law to protect all trees (including private trees grown in private land), would it prevent the affected trees from intentional removal before the Law would come into effect? Would it really save our trees at the end instead of having them chopped off willingly for avoidance of supervision? Can we prevent this from happenning before the Law is enacted? How?

2. Would the public, especially those land owners in the rural areas, accept such a Law intending to deprive their ownership of their own trees? Would it lead to commotion among the rural public as seen with other interfering policies in the past? Would this disturb social harmony & what for?

3. What kind of control other than Tree Retention is going to be implemented for this future Tree Law? Who is going to decide whether a tree is to be retained, transplanted or felled? Arborists or somebody else? Have we not seen so many so-called 'trees', including bananas, bamboos & palms which live short & difficult to transplant, have been retained inappropriately in HK over the years? Who is going to accept liabilities if trees are retained incorrectly after so much public funding squandered?

4. Would the professionals making decision on Tree Retention be a neutral party with Integrity, Professionalism, with an attitude of Fact-finding & Truth-telling, or just someone who would write good to please the client for financial reward? What international standards are going to be used for making any decision? Would 'in-house' report, or an Independent Report from a Third Party without Conflict of Interest, be deemed acceptable?

5. Who is going to supervise the running of this proposed Tree Law? What kind of training is required as necessary for execution? Any Independent Tribunal for appeal?

6. If the retained tree eventually becomes a Time Bomb & kills somebody or causes property damages, who is the party going to undertake liabilities? Would it be the Tree Owner who is forced to retain the tree, or the Govt Agency enforcing the Law, or whom?

7. A retained tree will grow. In accordance with international practice, it will need to be maintained properly so that it can become an asset instead of a liability. We have seen too often that incorrect pruning has damaged many trees in HK, & a lot of urban trees have failed due to this. Who is then going to pay for this sustainable maintenance, with what standards of prqactice & supervision, & who will be qualified to carry out the work?

Above are just a string of technical & legal questions that the politicians would need to study & answer, before perhaps any Tree Law can be further conceived in HK. Otherwise, it would be like some of the current Technical Guidelines full of good intention but challenged continuously by the receiving end to make works slow & unsmooth. HK has seen too good wishes turned sour because of various reasons. Do we wish to see a repetition to happen for a future Tree Law as well?

The proposed Tree Law is likely to be one area that the the future Tree Management Office (TMO) is going to run into, or would be required to deal with, with skills, experience & research. ISA HK/China, through the mighty support of ISA from 50 countries in the past 85 years, will be willing to give the future TMO is helping hand, if we are ever asked to make our contribution.

For this we shall live up our word.

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."