A deteriorating old silk tree in Sham Shui Po officially categorised as "precious" was removed yesterday on safety grounds.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department said the 19-metre-tall tree, which was on the register of old and valuable trees, had to be removed after efforts to stop it tilting further failed.
"Despite careful consideration and thorough deliberation, no viable measure could be identified to prevent the tree from further tilting," the department said after removing the Albizia julibrissin on Wistaria Road.
"Taking into account the high risk that the tree could collapse ... it was decided that the tree should be removed … for the sake of public safety."
The register did not specify the age of the tree, but said the "precious" tree had "an outstanding form".
The department said that since December 2008, a government contractor had been applying 3D laser scans to the tree on a six-monthly basis to monitor its growth.
The scans showed that the tree had been continuously tilting towards the road, and eventually risked collapsing.
"Apart from installing cables to strengthen support for the tree, other measures - including pruning the tree crown and removing wilted branches - were carried out to lessen the weight of the tree crown," the department said.
"But the measures were not particularly effective in preventing the tree from further tilting."
A joint inspection that the department conducted with the Tree Management Office under the Development Bureau and the Buildings Department last September found cracks on a fence wall of a private home nearby, underneath which the tree's supporting root had grown.
The repair works required on the wall "would have affected the tree's stability", it said. The authorities confirmed last month that the installation of large-scale frames supporting the tree was "not feasible" in this case.