Thursday, October 21, 2010

ISA HK/China --- Tree Risk Assessment in HK

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Dear Station Members,

Late development of Arboriculture in HK appears to be a landslide towards Tree Risk Assessment (TRA).

TRA training springs up everywhere in HK like never before. The public & laymen are encouraged to assess trees under short term programs, some as little as a two day training to become "qualified". Some trainers are not even experienced Tree Assessors themselves. Possessing academic qualifications & credentials alone does not make a good Assessor. Field Experience counts. Can you train a Lifeguard in a classroom?

Internationally, TRA Assessors have worked for years in the field to spot visual & potential risks in trees, besides continuous research & training. ISA Arboriculture has only started in HK since 2006 by the Station Manager. We can more or less count how many experienced TRA Assessors there are in HK in the private sector right now.

Another attention should be focused upon are the recommendations given in the TRA Forms commonly used. Treatment like Crown Thinning, Crown Reduction, Cabling & Bracing, etc. are common proposals. But no further details & requirements are laid down for execution of work, including supervision. Such treatment would belong to advanced Arboricultural Techniques to be practiced by experienced Tree Workers like our Certified Tree Workers (CTW). Then how many CTW are now working in HK? May be less than 20.

If the Tree Work is to be thrown to some common landscapers who would sub-contract it several times below to get the the cheapest price, would HK get quality work? If wanton work is accepted at the end, then what's the point of having a TRA in the beginning? Our media friends have already called ISA HK/China for this phenomenon many times. Maybe we cannot keep the cat in the bag for long.

The key to reduce Tree Risks really lies upon Putting the Right Tree in the Right Place. This deals with the Tree Design & Selection. When big trees are selected & installed in small planting holes, no matter for whatsoever the reason, Tree Risks would occur in time naturally. This is particularly true if poor quality trees from China are used.

Tree Design should be endorsed by an Independent Arborist (not in-house) to ascertain liabilities & responsibilities. In-house Arborists have to do what the bosses would say, but not an independent one. This is the way to have good quality trees in our territory. If not, it will be Mother Nature makes the Rules, as well as very good business for the Arborists all the time.

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."