Old and Valuable Tree in Wan Chai removed for public safety

     An Old and Valuable Tree (OVT) at Morrison Hill Road Playground, Wan Chai, was removed today (February 4) to ensure public safety after it was found to be at risk of collapse, a spokesman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) said.

     The tree was a 12-metre-tall Ficus virens (also known as the big-leaved fig) and listed on the Register of OVTs with registration number LCSD WCH/12.

     The spokesman said that the department had all along carried out regular inspections and maintenance on the tree. During a regular inspection in May last year, the tree was found to show signs of decay in its roots due to fungal infection. The department then carried out a number of remedial measures, including applying fungicide and improving the soil so as to facilitate the growth of the tree. The tree was put under close surveillance by the department.

     "During a detailed inspection last November, the decay in the roots of the tree was found to have worsened and the trunk was also found with decay due to fungal attack. Besides, the overall structural condition of the tree was also deteriorating.  Symptoms of brown root rot disease were found, and later confirmed by laboratory tests," the spokesman said.

     "Last December, we conducted a joint inspection with the Expert Panel on Tree Management of the Development Bureau. It was found that the tree had structural problems and a potential danger of collapse. Hence, the expert panel came to the view that the tree should be removed as soon as possible for public safety," he added.

     Taking into account the advice of the expert panel and the fact that the tree was located near the busy pedestrian walkway of the playground, and after consulting the Tree Management Office of the Development Bureau, the department decided to remove the tree as early as practicable to safeguard public safety.

     The spokesman stressed that the department would continue to adopt a prudent approach in inspecting and managing trees under its care. Removal of problematic trees will be the last resort only when there are no other viable options.

Ends/Monday, February 4, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:31