【Press Release】Friends of the Earth (HK) Comment on The Review of Roadside Tree Planting and Maintenance
Friends of the
Earth (HK) comments on
The Review of Roadside Tree Planting and Maintenance
(Hong Kong, 31 January 2023) A task force under the Development
Bureau reported to the Legislative Council’s Panel on Development on the
progress review of roadside tree planting and maintenance work. Friends of
the Earth (HK) welcomes the 10 improvement measures proposed by the
government in reducing the risk of tree collapse, which include expanding the
scope of tree risk assessment, enhancing reporting of tree failure cases,
increasing the auditing of tree risk assessment reports, and introducing
suitability and sustainability assessment for roadside trees.
To enhance the effectiveness of
tree management work, Friends of the Earth (HK) urges the government to
also adopt the following recommendations.
the government employs an "integrated approach" for urban tree
management, where different government departments are responsible for managing
trees in facilities and land within their purview. Due to the differences in
approach and operation, it takes time for the government to negotiate in the
process of policy implementation and data collection, which inevitably leads to
administrative constraints. The government can consider setting up a dedicated
team or assigning a single department to take charge of tree management in
order to ensure a more centralised, focused use of resources that boosts
management efficiency in the long run.
government proposes to expand the scope of "Tree Basis” risk assessment, which
is expected to increase the number of trees to be inspected by 4.5 to 5 times.
It also plans to incorporate more risk factors into the "Guidelines for
Tree Risk Assessment and Management Arrangements" as a measure to improve
tree risk assessment work. However, given the shortage of professionals with
tree management qualifications, market is questionable as to whether the industry
can handle the fivefold increase in the number of scheduled tree inspections.
The government should therefore choose higher-risk streets to optimise use of
resources, such as prioritising tree risk assessment for older districts.
assessment data is beneficial to tree management in the long run. We are
pleased to see the government actively taking steps to build a common digital
platform, compiling tree maintenance work and risk assessment of various
departments in a systematic manner. We hope that the authorities can make good
use of the data and work closely with research institutes and researchers from
higher education institutions to conduct data mining and analysis, so as to
identify high-risk trees as early as possible and reduce the risk of tree
collapse in the future.
government plans to formulate new guidelines on planting space and design
within the year to foster sustainable tree growth. However, such measures
constitute only a part of overall tree management strategy. Soil quality too
plays an equally important role. Presently in Hong Kong, a large majority of
trees are planted with mountain soil, which is not conducive to tree growth due
to poor hydrophobicity and air permeability. In this regard, the Environmental
Protection Department has to work with the Development Bureau to recycle and
convert yard waste into compost and wood mulch to enhance the soil’s
permeability and nutrient supply. It is as well imperative to lay down clear
guidelines for the industry to follow as a way to achieve both sustainable tree
growth and waste reduction.
Within the 17 targets of The
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, "Goal 15: Life on land” covers
the sustainable management of forests, ending deforestation and restoring
degraded forests, establishing the vital role of trees in protecting,
maintaining and promoting the sustainable use of ecosystems. To make Hong Kong
a sustainable and liveable city, the government should take the initiative to
develop urban forestry, integrating nature into urban planning. Efforts should
also be made to strengthen tree management in minimising the risk of tree