The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) will study thoroughly and consider seriously the recommendations made by the Coroner's Court when returning the verdict on the cause of death of a passer-by involved in a tree collapse incident in Yuen Chau Kok, Sha Tin last year, a spokesman for the department said today (June 30).
"We deeply regret this tragic incident and, once again, would like to offer our deepest condolences to the family of Mr Choi Kit-keung," the spokesman added.
The spokesman stressed that LCSD has always attached great importance to the management and maintenance of the trees under its care, and would continue to do its utmost to implement the improvement measures as soon as possible so as to reduce the hazards posed by trees to public safety.
The spokesman said the LCSD has been implementing a series of improvement measures since the Government conducted a comprehensive review of tree management in 2009. Since the Yuen Chau Kok incident, the department has strengthened and expedited the implementation of the measures, with a view to enhancing the standard of its tree management work. As of June this year, the measures that have been completed or under implementation include:
(1) Enhancing staff training: A five-year training plan was drawn up in 2010 and is being implemented to provide over 5 000 training places from 2010/11 to 2014/15 to enhance the professional knowledge and skills of the tree management staff, particularly in the area of tree risk management. The training sessions have registered a total attendance of 1 300 in the past year. Some of the staff who have completed training will obtain professional qualifications such as Certified Arborist, Certified Tree Risk Assessor and Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist. To date, 157 staff members have obtained such professional qualifications.
(2) Reorganisation of tree teams: Since May 2010, the department has implemented a new tree management manpower structure with the formation of six regional tree teams and an increase in the number of dedicated tree staff from 124 to 221. The new manpower structure and operation mode aim to ensure that tree management work is carried out in a more systematic and effective manner. All tree team staff are required to undergo systematic tree-related training.
(3) Improved tree inspection forms: The tree inspection forms have been improved to enhance tree risk management capability and provide more supporting information such as location maps and photographs. The computer system was also upgraded to enable a more efficient record keeping system to facilitate tree inspection work. Besides, supervisory staff will conduct random checks on the completed tree inspection forms to ensure work quality.
(4) Revised tree management guidelines: The departmental tree management guidelines have been revised to provide more detailed information, such as photographs and notes, and professional advice for reference by the tree inspection staff. The tree inspection and recording systems were also overhauled to enable more effective monitoring of follow-up actions, provide for internal audit procedures, stipulate the important points to note when conducting visual inspection on trees, and require tree inspection records to be supported by location maps and photographs.
(5) Enhancing tree risk management: In accordance with the guidelines promulgated by the Tree Management Office (TMO) of the Development Bureau (DEVB), the LCSD has first identified those areas with high pedestrian or vehicular flow under its management (Category I zones) and carried out tree group inspections in these Category I zones. To prepare for the onset of the rainy and typhoon seasons, the LCSD will complete group tree inspection on these trees before end-May each year to identify trees that require detailed inspection, special care or other follow-up work in order to minimise the risks posed by hazardous trees to public safety. By end-May this year, the department has completed group tree inspection of 320 000 trees located on Category I zones, and carried out tree maintenance/trimming work for about 29 000 trees. Out of the Category I trees, LCSD has identified some 600 trees requiring special attention (including the Old and Valuable Trees) which have been uploaded onto DEVB's website.
(6) Encouraging community participation: To encourage public participation in tree preservation and in monitoring the condition of trees across the territory, the LCSD has organised over 80 seminars and activities in 2010 for some 200 Green Ambassadors and will organise more than 90 similar programmes in 2011 by also involving the Green Volunteers, aiming to attract a total of 2 800 participants. These activities seek to increase the tree-care knowledge of the public so that they can help to report problematic trees to the authority for follow-up by various government departments.
The spokesman reiterated that the LCSD would continue to work closely with the TMO to further enhance the quality of tree management work.
"Public safety is the prime consideration of our tree management work. In addition to the above ongoing measures, the LCSD will seriously consider and work closely with the TMO in following up the recommendations of the Coroner's Court with a view to further strengthening and enhancing our tree management work," he said.
Ends/Thursday, June 30, 2011