Government departments will no longer be able to pass the buck on fallen or dangerous trees if recommendations of a review of tree management are adopted. Under the review, to be published next month, various government departments would be grouped together under a co-ordinating office to work on tree-related complaints to enhance efficiency, a source familiar with the review said. At present, tree management issues are scattered among 16 government departments. There have been cases in which the duty to clear a fallen tree passed between five departments because the tree was blown from place to place. For instance, if the trunk is lying inside a public estate, it is the duty of the Housing Department; outside the estate it falls under the Highways Department. But if the trunk is then blown into a garden, the case passes to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. If it then ends up in a nullah, it becomes a problem for the Drainage Services Department. 'It may look like red tape, but these officials do have their concerns. If they do another's job and make a mistake, they will be in trouble,' the source said. In the review, the government is expected to list a number of scenarios concerning fallen trees and who should be responsible in each case. A housing official, for example, may have to clear a fallen trunk even if it has ended up on a road outside the estate. It will also propose guidelines on how trees should be assessed and in what order. Trees near populated areas get priority. However, the source said the report may not have much detail on proposals for specific laws to deal with felling of trees on private land. In a seminar on tree management yesterday, University of Hong Kong tree expert Jim Chi-yung said the government should amend laws to stop private developers from felling trees. 'Private developers ... can fell a whole forest without bearing any liability,' he said. 'The government should inspect the land for its biological value before putting it up for sale.' But the source said the problem could not be resolved quickly as it involved ownership of private assets. A tree office, in which local and overseas experts will be given seats, will look into the issue in the long run after studying overseas examples. The office will also deal with planning and conservation of trees, and launch a publicity campaign.