Two Old and Valuable Trees (OVT) in Central and Western District have been removed to ensure public safety after they were found to be at risk of collapse, a spokesman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) said today (November 16).
One of the trees was an 11-metre-tall Chinese banyan, located at the junction of Smithfield and Lung Wah Street. It was listed on the Register of OVT with registration number LCSD CW/5.
The spokesman said after the passage of Typhoon Neoguri in 2008, the tree trunk was torn and its structure became unstable.
"To retain the tree, the department largely trimmed the crown of the tree to reduce its weight and installed cables to stabilise the trunk. Later on, at the request of the LCSD, the Highways Department installed a temporary frame to support the slanted trunk in order to minimise the chance of collapse. The LCSD has been closely monitoring the health and structural condition of the tree thereafter," he said.
In addition to slanting, the two main trunks of the tree were found to be rotten and the bottom of the trunk was hollow. The condition of the tree was deteriorating, with its roots rotten to some extent causing it to be in a highly unstable condition. Although the department had regularly trimmed the tree to a large extent to reduce its weight and resistance to the wind, the structural stability of the tree could not be regained.
The Expert Panel on Tree Management of the Development Bureau inspected the tree on site in September this year and opined that the overall structure of the tree was poor while its trunk was rotten and torn, which seriously affected the stability of the tree. The tree had a risk of collapse. After consulting the Tree Management Office (TMO) of the Development Bureau and the Central and Western District Council (CWDC), the department decided to remove the tree for public safety as soon as possible.
The other OVT removed today was also a Chinese banyan, located on the old section of Pok Fu Lam Road outside Pokfulam Road Playground. The 19-metre-tall tree was listed as LCSD CW/9 on the Register of OVTs.
The spokesman said that the department had all along carried out regular inspections and maintenance on the tree. In the past year, the health condition of the tree was found to be deteriorating quickly with defoliation. There was sap oozing from the trunk and fungal attack was found, thus jeopardising the structural condition of the trunk.
"The department had closely monitored the condition of the tree and taken a number of remedial measures including trimming of the tree crown, application of fungicide and installation of steel cables to stabilise the structure of the tree.
"Following an on-site inspection by the TMO of the Development Bureau in October, the tree was confirmed to have been infected by brown root rot disease. Later, the Expert Panel on Tree Management conducted a joint visit and inspection with the LCSD. It was found that the tree was in an unstable condition and had a potential danger of collapse. Hence, the Expert Panel shared the view that the tree should be removed as soon as possible for public safety," he said.
In view of the high patronage of Pokfulam Road Playground, the department decided to remove the tree as soon as possible after consulting the TMO of the Development Bureau and informing the CWDC so as to ensure public safety.
The spokesman stressed that the LCSD would continue to inspect and maintain trees with due care, and removal of any trees would be the last resort only when there were no other viable options.
Ends/Friday, November 16, 2012