Scientific-based programme needed for tree maintenance
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We are professional horticulturists and arborists and have practised in Hong Kong for more than 30 years.
We are concerned about conservation, we care for the environment and we love trees. For too long we have remained silent over the Hong Kong government's ridiculous policy on trees. Following the fatal accident in Stanley last month ('Pledge to check treasured trees after one collapses, killing teen', August 28), we feel we have to speak up.
The present government policy on trees is archaic, far too bureaucratic, irrational and unprofessional and is not scientifically based. Why are leisure and cultural services officials so scared to defend their professional actions to a hostile media? It is true that green groups and some so-called tree experts have been very aggressive in trying to protect every tree in Hong Kong. Their intentions are good but also lack a scientific grounding.
Every tree is precious to us and we need to do everything possible to preserve trees, but all of them have a limited lifespan and the urban environment is not always the best place for them. If the tree in Stanley was a danger to the public ('Residents put blame squarely on the government', August 29), why did officials not carry out their professional duties?
What we are seeing following the tragedy is that leisure and cultural services staff have been pruning trees indiscriminately and this is not going to help. What is needed is a regular and professional pruning programme.
This can help, in particular, to reduce damage caused by typhoons. Also, it is hazardous to have staff working overtime. Working on trees is a strenuous and physically taxing activity. We do not want to see a serious accident. Staff need to have proper rest periods.
It is time now to review the government's tree policy. It is not good enough to just plant trees and then fail to have a reasonable maintenance programme.
We need to have a rational, sound and scientific-based policy. This is not the policy that our officials have at present.
Anthony Tse, Eric Lee, Allen Lim, Lam Tak-chak, Shouson Hill