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Two deteriorated Old and Valuable Trees in Eastern District removed for public safety

     The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) today (September 13) removed a South China Honeylocust in Victoria Park and a Chinese Hackberry in Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village to ensure public safety. Through detailed inspection by the department and detailed analysis by the tree expert group, these two Old and Valuable Trees (OVTs) were found to be in potential danger of collapse.

     The 16-metre-tall South China Honeylocust, located in the vicinity of a pavilion on a knoll in Victoria Park, was listed on the Register of Old and Valuable Trees with registration number LCSD E/34. Staff of LCSD and the contractor for the maintenance of the OVTs had been conducting regular inspections and maintenance of the tree. No obvious irregularity was found during an inspection on June 5. However, most of the tree leaves were found withered and fallen during a subsequent inspection on July 16. A detailed review by LCSD staff confirmed that there were signs of withering on parts of the tree trunk and branches.

     Despite the department's immediate action to use cables to stabilise the tree and to enhance tree maintenance work, the tree deteriorated continuously and showed no signs of recovery. After further inspection by the tree expert group, it was believed that the tree had a fungal attack resulting in rapid deterioration in health and serious defoliation and withering within a short period of time. As the tree was located next to a pedestrian pathway, the department decided that it should be removed to ensure public safety.

     The 12-metre-tall Chinese Hackberry, located on a slope near a nursery in Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village, was listed on the Register of Old and Valuable Trees with registration number LCSD E/14. Abnormal defoliation of the tree had been observed since mid-2008. Its roots were found to have been attacked by fungi and bacteria resulting in sap oozing from the tree and the emission of an unpleasant smell. LCSD staff has been conducting regular inspections and carrying out maintenance of the tree in an effort to improve its health, including crown cleaning, removing dead bark, using cables to stabilise the tree, as well as application of fungicide and insecticide.

     While the department spared no effort to care for the tree over the past two years, it did not respond well. During further and detailed inspections by LCSD staff and the tree expert group on August 19 and August 24, the tree's root system was found to be decaying seriously and there was also serious damage to and cracking of the trunk jeopardising the tree's stability. As the tree showed a very slim chance of recovery and was confirmed to be in potential danger of collapse, the department decided to remove it to safeguard public safety.

     The LCSD will continue to adopt a prudent approach in managing the trees under its care and take suitable maintenance measures. For trees in poor condition, removing them would only be the last resort when there is no viable alternative.  

Ends/Monday, September 13, 2010

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