Monday, August 20, 2007

*** Station Mail is for the information of Station Members only, but Station Mail has given up copyright & can be freely circulated. For administrative reasons, comments from outsiders are usually not entertained & may be circulated within our system locally & overseas.***

Dear Station Members,

Attached & below are bundled Press coverage on the recent Tree Failure of the 200 year old 'Champion Ficus' at Kowloon Park:


This Station has never thought such Tree Failure which is frequent nowadays in HK/China, have attracted so much media attention in the past weeks. It just shows the HK public is becoming aware of our current tree affairs & demand improvement.

It appears among the comments from the media that the general sentiment is that of mistrust & disappointment towards how LCSD has been handling our Mature Trees. Everything negative has been said about LCSD, & hardly any sympathy but suspicion was shown for their explanation. In return, the media demanded better Tree Care on our Old & Valuable Trees (OVT) & some expressed doubts for their existence in the long run.

From the information so given, this Station has the following thinking:

1. It is not known in the ISA World that a 200 year old tree ripped apart for 1/3, could ever be recovered to its former glory by any of the current known techniques. The wounds are far too big to be compartmentalized. We shall wait & see how LCSD will use their better skills to recover this 'Champion Ficus' & will be most willing to learn from their treatment, if successful.

2. Decay Detecting Devices (DDD) such as Resistograph, Tomograph & Root Radar were demonstrated in full at the Regional Arboricultural Seminar in Singapore in April 2007 at which the Station Manager was present. The Station Manager asked a question at the British expert from Fujimura (Europe) that whether DDD could predict precisely the decay situation in a tree & the answer was 'No'. He was told that the wood density, moisture content & microorganisms present could deviate the results. The final assessment would still depend on the experience of the arborist to make an interpretation. It would be like a doctor receiving the best surgical tools in the world, but would still need to know how to utilize the findings. Let's hope with all these expensive tools on hand now, LCSD can diagnose & treat our Tree Failures especially for the OVT.

3. At the 2007 ISA Internatinal Conference in Hawaii, several presentations from international experts focused on the wisdom of using DDD against the traditional expertise of the Tree Assessor on diagnosing Tree Failure. One presentation by a British arborist was given the name of 'Putting the Cart before the Horse', laughing at some Tree Assessors rushing to use DDD instead of relying on running basics. The Station Manager was rather impressed with the presentation & found using hand-drill & mallet would be just as good for initial diagnosis, rather than diving straight at the complication of deploying DDD. This presentation can be obtained on request from ISA HQ.

4. With all these money spent on purchasing expensive DDD, would it not a cheaper & better alternative to send down staff to receive Tree Failures training at CUGE in Singapore this week? Prof. Mattheck's Workshop will cover DDD to explain their advantages & disadvantages. Is Prof. Mattheck's teaching not good enough for us? Then where should we go for it??

5. Station Mail is now circulated around the Pacific Rim from Japan to New Zealand to many arbor experts in the region. If any of them reckons our 200 year old 'Champion Ficus' ripped apart 1/3 at the trunk can be saved to its former glory, this Station will brush its ear to listen & publish the information.

6. What happens if this 200 year old 'Champion Ficus' eventually dies from the current treatment? Would it be an 'Act of God' again?

Mature Tree Failures are getting more interesting each day in HK/China indeed.

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager