Friday, June 18, 2010

ISA HK/China --- HK Tree News (Shatin Tree Failure)

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Dear Station Members,

The Shatin Tree Failure on 14.6.2010 which killed a man came like whirlwind to sweep HK for a few days, but then disappeared just as quickly upon the political debate of the Chief Executive with a politician a few days later. This shows how the media can raise the public sentiment in the HK society & how the HK public is influenced by them at large.

ISA HK/China wishes to offer our deepest condolence to the victim of the Tree Failure in Shatin, & hopes the same event will never happen again in our territory or anywhere. This is the second Tree Failure that killed within two years in HK.

The mobile phone of the Station Manager (SM) started ringing within half an hour of the tragic accident from media & Station members. Most were asking for a 'professional opinion' of the incident. The SM simply said he could not provide, because none of us was there to assess the tree & site to get any idea of what was happening, & we are not supposed to anyway. So many experts are now working on this event & a law suit has been vowed by the family of the victim. Anything we say may become a citation by somebody, & this is unwise. This is not our fight & it is not following ISA Mission. Therefore, our name has not appeared in any of the media, & no news may be good news for us this round.

On the other hand, the media have been very harsh on the reporting (see below) of the incident. The criticism were relentless & without mercy. The good side of it may be to raise public awareness on Tree Safety. But workload may increase as the public are turning into ' Tree Watchers ' & may call for help whether genuinely needed or not. This may burn the fuse in resource allocation for the already stressed service providers.

ISA HK/China wishes to take this opportunity for an education to our Working Arborists in the field :

1. Do your Assessment carefully. Carelessness can kill. Tree Assessment is not the same as Tree Survey. It looks deep into the structure, safety & health of a tree. Don't mix them up & don't do it if you are not sure whether you are capable. This will give you some good night sleep.

2. Focus on the accuracy of your reporting, not on the cosmetic packaging of it. Big, wordy & colorful report may not be an accurate report. The more you write, the more liable you are to mistakes. Professional Arborist Reports around the world are written in a simple, concise & precise manner. In a Court scenario, the Judges & Lawyers will not appreciate how pretty you present your report, but how accurate it is. And the ultimate arena for an Arborist is in Court. The Arborist Profession goes to Court more often than any other greenery profession around the world in Tree Dispute.

3. Learn how to do Tree Assessment on site, not in a classroom. Seminar may help, but do not take it as gospels. Come to ISA International Conference to meet the world to collect experience. You will then find out credentials are not your only bastion in protecting your work. Your profound knowledge & practical experience would be.

4. Learn Tree Climbing & Tree Work. Only by being aloft & cutting wood, you would appreciate how strong a crotch would be in wind & how much impact it has when falling. Practicing Arborists around the world usually do tree climbing & tree work one time or another in their working life. Missing it would be like a doctor not knowing how to handle injection needles. This is the reason why we require our IPA ( to be able to climb & rig. You speak louder in public if you can.

Tree Failure is a fact of life. Trees grow to shed unwanted parts. Who can stop Mother Nature? It is the Arborist Profession to try to catch Tree Failure before it happens. It's always a cat & mouse game. Sometimes we win, sometimes we may lose.

There is an old Chinese proverb: " 沉舟側畔千杋過,病樹前頭萬木春 " (A thousand ship will pass by a boat that unfortunately sank. Ten Thousand trees will bloom ahead of a sick one.). May a tragic incident not discourage the progress of our development, & may our profession be more conscientious to save lives as we should.

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager

"If a tree is not designed, installed, maintained & inspected properly, it is likely to become a liability rather than an asset."

"Trees are good for the community. Trees need care like human beings. Arborists are the Tree Care Professionals."

蠹眾木折頻奪命 隙大牆壞禍必深