Sunday, January 6, 2013

HK updates: Tree care ensures a greener Hong Kong (6 Jan 2013)

PhotoTree care ensures a greener Hong Kong

January 06, 2013
There are many trees dotted around Hong Kong, offering a great variety of flora in both rural and urban areas. The Tree Management Office was established in 2010 to assess trees and train staff in different government departments to deal with tree problems.
The office hopes that with community surveillance and the work of different departments, Hong Kong can take good care of its trees and develop a greener environment.
The office provides about 140 courses for government departments. It has trained about 17,000 people so far.

Tree Management Officer Keith Fan teaches government staff how to conduct tree inspections.
On the day of this interview, he was teaching a class of 30 in Kowloon Park, to inspect the condition of a tree on a slope.
“If this kind of fungus is found on the surface of the tree, the root of this tree will probably be damaged by infection,” he told his students.
"The first step to inspecting a tree is to observe it by eye. If problematic trees are found, more advanced equipment is required for further testing, such as tomography scanners, to gather more data about the heath condition of the trees.”
Staff are trained to conduct tree risk assessments, and to learn mitigation measures.
Different departments conducted more than 28,000 tree inspections last year, and prescribed mitigation measures for more than 19,000 trees.
Tree Management Office Head Lawrence Chau said there are many ways to deal with problematic trees. Some simply need pruning, support or removal, while others must be treated for pests and disease.
Striking a balance 
Deciding whether to repair or remove a problematic tree is not an easy decision.
“We are trying our best to strike a balance when managing trees. We have to take public safety into account, and consider the feelings of the community for trees. Although the overall policy focuses on public safety, we also communicate with local communities, especially on trees which are highly worthy of protection,” Mr Chau said.
A 14-metre candlenut tree on Perkins Road has long branches which have posed problems for vehicles passing by it. Leisure & Cultural Services Department officers examined the situation and decided to cut part of the tree. Tree surgeons had to work quickly and accurately to minimise the operation's impact on traffic.
Community care 
Due to the vast number of trees in Hong Kong, the Tree Management Office suggests that one way to improve tree monitoring is to gather support from the public. People can report problematic trees by calling 1823.
People can also download the Tell Me@1823 application for smartphones, and simply submit photographs and a description to report a problematic tree. A geospatial function allows the app to capture the tree's location, enabling related departments to conduct follow-up work as quickly as possible.
Tree Care Report forms are available online for people to report tree problems to the Tree Management Office.
The office has also prepared a pictorial guide to explain how to identify health and structural problems in trees.

Link to Department Bureau Tree Management Office:

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