Thursday, July 22, 2010

ISA HK/China --- HK Tree News (Missing Trees in TMO Watch List)

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Dear Station Members,

The attached news below described how the local Tree Experts have spotted missed trees regarded by them to be hazardous, after the announcement of the Tree Watch List by the Tree Management Office (TMO) a little while ago. Both Tree Experts are renowned Arborists well experienced in field trees in HK. They have a good credibility in public.

Is it so easy to miss out on Hazard Trees during a Tree Inspection? It should not happen to a trained Arborist or it will be Professional Negligence. However to laymen who are only shortly briefed in the subject, it can easily happen. This is especially true for tree defects above-ground on stem & branches, because the majority of visual inspection is conducted on ground. Branch cankers & cracks facing up the sky can not be seen from standing below. It will take a tree climber to get up there to spot the defects. Very experienced Arborist may also spot the irregularities in tree architecture, to send someone up there to tell him below. Alternatively, a tree with full bloom may be at its end of life. It seeds before it dies. The assessor will need to understand detailed Tree Biology to spot it.

Our territory lacks experienced & well trained Tree Assessors. In view of this, anyone available is called upon to carry out Tree Assessment, in the name of promoting public safety. During the Vietnam War, untrained GI's were sent in to fight a jungle warfare that they were not experienced with. The result was a catastrophe. Let's hope this won't happen to the all-out Tree Assessment in HK.

To stop Hazard Trees from building up again, ISA HK/China recommends first each Govt Dept should design & maintain their own trees from cradle to grave. This will provide responsibilities & liabilities. Each Govt should also have their own Arborists to supervise on trees. Tree Design should be endorsed by an Independent Arborist outside the Dept to avoid Conflict of Interest. A similar practice happens with the Environmental Assessment. Why not for trees?

Secondly, public education is very important. TMO should conduct frequent sessions on tree planting to the public & media, preferably weekly in the initial stage. TMO must talk to these people for good or for bad. It should be done face-to-face, not just over the internet. ISA HK/China is interviewed by the media all the time. The media are now good friends of ours & support us.

Also, listen to the complaints from the conservationists & try to resolve them. Meet them & not avoid them. Talk to them with international experience & practices. Reason with them by research. Discuss with them the consequences to retain bad quality trees. Try to move them by heart.

Arborists' job is to select the right trees, install them correctly, maintain them to proper standards, assess their risks & protect them during construction. We produce quality reports internationally (maybe not locally so far) in our language. We are supposed to have good communication skills & basic legal knowledge to work with others. We do good to our society.

The Arborist Profession in HK is gradually moving towards the world standards, & HK will lead the rest of our territory to follow. May the public give us some time & patience to show our good work to them, & may our profession develop in the right direction to serve our society.

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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