The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) removed an Old and Valuable Tree (OVT) with potential danger in Sham Shui Po today (January 17) for the sake of public safety.
Located at 5 Wistaria Road, the tree was a 20-metre-tall Albizia julibrissin (commonly known as silk tree) under the management of the LCSD and was listed on the Register of OVTs with the registration number LCSD SSP/16.
Starting from December 2008, an LCSD-commissioned contractor had been applying three-dimensional laser scanning to the tree on a six-monthly basis in order to precisely monitor the tree's growing situation and changes. The scanning results over the past few years indicated that the tree had continuously been tilting towards the road, thereby gradually giving rise to the risk of collapse. Apart from installing cables to strengthen support for the tree, other measures, including pruning the tree crown and removing wilted branches, were carried out to lessen the tree crown's weight. However, the measures were not particularly effective in preventing the tree from further tilting.
Meanwhile, the tree's tension root, which supported the tree, grew underneath the fence wall of a private residence in the vicinity. While the fence wall has in a way helped to stabilise the tree roots, more and more cracks were recently found on the wall. During a joint inspection by the LCSD, the Tree Management Office (TMO) under the Development Bureau and the Buildings Department in mid-September last year, it was found that the fence wall was with dilapidation and defects and repair works would be required to be carried out as soon as possible by the owner so as to prevent further deterioration of the wall and to ensure the safety of the occupants and the public. Such repair works, if carried out, would have affected the tree's stability, thereby posing further danger to pedestrians, residents and nearby traffic.
A further joint inspection by the LCSD, the TMO, the Expert Panel on Tree Management and the relevant government departments last December confirmed that the installation of large-scale frames supporting the tree was not feasible given the road's width, the entry and exit requirements for emergency vehicles, and the existence of nearby residence entrances and underground facilities. Further pruning of the tree trunk and branches would not help prevent the tree from further tilting towards the road either.
Despite careful consideration and thorough deliberation, no viable measure could be identified to prevent the tree from further tilting. Taking into account the high risk that the tree could collapse after commencement of the repairing works for the fence wall, it was decided that the tree should be removed as early as practicable for the sake of public safety.
Ends/Friday, January 17, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:01