Hong Kong’s Heritage Trees are Failing

tree failure

tree failure

Hong Kong has removed many of its heritage trees in the past eight years due to typhoons and disease (the government’s definition of natural causes). Even with these removals, many trees are still failing and causing accidents. In August 2008 a coral tree that had a fungal infection fell in Stanley Market and killed a schoolgirl. In July 2012 another diseased heritage tree fell over in Park Lane Shopper’s Boulevard and injured five pedestrians.

The tree that fell in Park Lane Shopper’s Boulevard had brown root rot, and many other trees in the city are also becoming infected. The source of the infection is believed to be a dying banyan tree in Kowloon Park, and the spread of the disease has been through the air and the soil. Guidelines show that a tree infected with brown root rot should be burned and the soil replaced to keep the disease from spreading. Unfortunately, these guidelines aren’t adhered to for each tree that is being removed, and many believe this government negligence is increasing the problem.

Thirteen new trees have been added to the heritage list in the past few years to make up for the losses. The government lists heritage trees as old and valuable with the truck diameter greater than one meter, be of a rare species, be more than 100 years old, be of cultural or historical significance, or have an outstanding form.


Trees in Hong Kong

Trees in Hongkong

Trees in Hongkong

Hong Kong has many old heritage trees, which are being lost at an alarming rate. From 2004 to 2012, a tenth of the urban heritage trees have been lost, according to the Leisure and Culture Services Department in the city. Although age is a factor in the removal of the 52 old and valuable trees, experts say the government’s poor maintenance of the trees is what caused the trees to need to be removed.

Lack of coordination among departments is seen as a weakness in the care of the trees. As an example, different departments care for trees located in public parks and trees located along highways. To address the need to work together, a tree-management office was set up to issue guidelines, organize training, and improve risk assessment, but because this office’s head was given the most junior rank, it is difficult to advise senior officials.

Jim Chi-yung is an expert in the tree-management office, but he is disappointed in the results of the new system. The office felt it needed to identify risky trees and so set up training for staff and workers. “But the brief training sessions given to staff and workers won’t turn them into tree scientists,” he said. “What we need are true specialists, not a large number of insufficiently trained ‘assessors.’”

Town Planning Board member Patrick Lau Hing-tat, chair of the Hong Kong Trees Conservation Association and a landscape architect, said the city needs a comprehensive tree plan. The association is now offering accreditation to tree managers, who would hopefully be hire to supervise construction and roadwork, which is a leading cause in tree damage in the city.

The city is considering a study on introducing a bill for trees, which would potentially address the need for new tree protection laws.


Windstorm Damage



On December 18, 2012 people in Los Angeles and Ventura County suffered power outages from high winds. In all about 17,000 Southern California Edison customers were affected. Beverly Hills reported winds of 45 mph, and in Malibu, Saugus, and Newhall Pass the winds were approximately 50 mph. The winds caused a tree to fall on a pickup truck in downtown Los Angeles. There were no injuries.


Santa Monica Trees

Vanefsky photos 010

Vanefsky photo

Trees in the way of the Exposition Light Rail Line in Santa Monica have been chosen to be either moved to a new location or removed and replaced. Those that were chosen to be removed are being replaced with two new trees. This means that there will be an overall increase of 120 trees in the Santa Monica area – paid for by the Exposition Construction Authority. In evaluating the trees, four arborists looked at the trees for value, cost of removal, and health. If the cost of moving the tree was more than the value of the tree, that tree was chosen to be replaced instead of being moved. Also, if the type of tree was not able to maintain health once being moved, it was chosen to be removed. There were 139 trees that were evaluated, and it was decided that 120 of those trees would be removed and replaced.

Planners chose to relocate trees, like palms, throughout the city where similar trees are located. The replacement trees will be almost exclusively be planted densely along the Colorado Avenue corridor to shield residents from the Expo Line. Community forester Walt Warriner said City Council is considering low-growing canopy trees that provide shade and spread broadly, although community input was also considered in the tree selection.

Although there will be an increase in the number of trees in the area, this increase does not completely replace full-grown trees that are to be removed. Full-grown trees are better at removing more carbon dioxide and other air pollutants, produce more oxygen, and help trap more storm water runoff. Newly planted trees will take years to reach a stage where they can provide the same benefits.



Tree Damage in Malibu



Approximately 1,800 Southern California Edison customers in Malibu were without power after a Sycamore tree along Ramirez Canyon Road fell onto a power line. Southern California Edison spokesman Gil Alexander said of the outage, “The tree fell on the power line, knocking power out.” The traffic lights at Pacific Coast Highway and Paradise Coast Road also went out. Lt. Josh Thai of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sherriff’s Station cautioned drivers to treat a traffic light power outage as a four-way stop sign. The tree caused the power outage at 4:46 pm and Southern California Edison started rerouting power once it detected the outage. By 6:54 pm, power had been restored to all but 40 customers.


Woman Injured From Tree

Ana Sofia Krogh-Doyle of Kahala, Hawaii, sued the City of Honolulu and its landscape contractor after a coconut tree fell on her while she was at Waikiki Beach. Krogh-Doyle makes the claim that the city was negligent by failing to maintain the tree. An expert estimates that the tree is 76 years old and should have been properly inspected and then removed because of its poor condition.

The tree fell on a public restroom, which caused the top 20-foot portion of the tree to snap off, roll off the restroom roof, and land on top of Krogh-Doyle. Krogh-Doyle suffered fractures to her ribs, face, and spine, and also suffered a head injury. She was a competitive surfer and her lawyer stated that, “had the 44-year-old not been in such good physical shape at the time of the incident, she would have been in a care home.” Her injuries have also prevented her from returning to work.

Evergreen Arborists Consultants, Inc. has examined thousands of trees. We are Los Angeles certified arborists, tree experts, and tree specialists who provide arboriculture and tree expert advice to Beverly Hills, Brentwood,  West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Malibu, Palos Verdes, Encino, Pasadena, and Sherman Oaks. We specialize in Los Angeles trees, and conducting detailed investigations and providing independent analysis. Please call us today for a consultation.

Sherman Oaks Trees

Laurel Canyon Boulevard trees in Sherman Oaks were trimmed in a project to help reduce the danger of fires in the area. Trees along this road and in a few other Hollywood Hills areas have had limbs that hang down below 14 feet, which is the clearance requirement for fire department trucks to get through to respond to a fire emergency. “This project has been talked about for years. It’s a public safety issue, and it’s getting worse in the Hollywood Hills,” said Fire Department Fire Inspector John Novela.

The state has designated 190,000 parcels as being in a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, and the tree trimming project is within this zone. Previously, 130,000 parcels were within this zone, but more development has meant more parcels are now in this zone. With the increase in residences in this high fire hazard zone, there has also been a decrease in the Urban Forestry budget to trim trees. Trees were previously trimmed on a 13-year cycle. Now they are in a 33-year tree trimming cycle. The fire department is now hiring contractors to trim trees to ensure clearance for their fire trucks and to reduce the chance of fires spreading through the tree tops.

“We learned from the Oakland fire 20 years ago that out-of-control vegetation feeds a fire, especially tree canopies where fire spreads from tree to tree,” Novela said.

An experienced arborist has been helping with the project to ensure mature trees aren’t damaged by the trimming. Trees that are found hazardous due to instability are removed entirely.

Evergreen Arborists Consultants, Inc. has examined thousands of trees. We are Los Angeles certified arborists, tree experts, and tree specialists who provide arboriculture and tree expert advice to Beverly Hills, Brentwood,  West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Malibu, Palos Verdes, Encino, Pasadena, and Sherman Oaks. We specialize in Los Angeles trees, and conducting detailed investigations and providing independent analysis. Please call us today for a consultation.

Sycamores Downed in Malibu

Old tree

An old tree

California State Parks, working on the Malibu Lagoon overhaul project to replace non-native vegetation with native vegetation, uprooted seven 30-year-old sycamores during bulldozing. The bulldozer was removing vegetation through a process called “grubbing” and downed the trees. Suzanne Goode, senior environmental scientist for State Parks, said the sycamores would be reused within the project. “About three of them are going to be put in the bottom of the lagoon for fish habitat and to create a little roosting area for birds. A couple of them are going to be turned into benches for the park for the amphitheater.”

Some Malibu residents actively oppose the overhaul project, protesting the impact the bulldozing has on animals, fish, and other wildlife in the lagoon.

Evergreen Arborists Consultants, Inc. understands the requirements for arborist reports and protecting potentially impacted trees. Our arborists provide guidance throughout the construction process. This includes the protection of trees before construction, monitoring the trees during construction, and following up on the tree health after construction. Please call us today for a consultation.

Santa Ana Winds Down Trees

Last December, Santa Ana winds in Southern California caused havoc and significant power outages. Some of the wind gusts were approximately 100 mph, while other gusts were recorded at 56-65 mph. Many homes, especially in the hard-hit Pasadena area, were without power as the winds knocked down trees – destroying buildings and downing power lines. “We probably have over 100 trees that are down and arcing wires and transformers that have blown,” said Pasadena police Lt. Jari Faulkner. Some neighborhoods were completely without power and residents were advised to limit travel and stay inside to remain safe from the storm and the debris.

Evergreen Arborists Consultants, Inc. has experience in examining thousands of trees. We evaluate a tree’s signs and symptoms ranging from decay, poor branch structure, poor pruning and maintenance practices, and roots. Tree risk assessment helps minimize the risk of falling trees or branches. Please call us today for a consultation.

Wildfire Damage

damaged trees

damaged trees

Next year two cousins who accidently started Arizona’s largest wildfire, the Wallow Fire, will start paying restitution with monthly payments. Caleb and David Malboeuf didn’t clear the brush from around their campfire and then left it unattended in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. The brush caught fire and subsequently burned 840 square miles in Arizona and New Mexico.

The payment the cousins will make are for $3.7 million in restitution, with uninsured people who lost property or suffered property damage to receive the first payments. People who had out-of-pocket expenses will be next to receive payments, and lastly, insurance companies – owed nearly $3.4 million. The cousins will probably not pay off their debt in their lifetimes. The blaze destroyed 32 homes, 4 rental cabins, and nearly 10,000 people were forced to evacuate at one point. “That’s a lifetime payment, if you’re just a working man, of $500 and you’re not buying a house, you’re not paying a credit card. I can’t imagine,” said Nutrioso’s postmaster, Stuart Moring,

The Malboeuf’s attorneys suggested the payments during a restitution hearing. Attorney David Derickson said the cousins would be available to talk about their experiences camping, and their missteps, and hopes the U. S. Forest Service and schools will have a use for them.

Evergreen Arborists Consultants, Inc. has expert witness experience with property damage and personal injury cases. We have deposition and trial experience working for plaintiff and defense cases on behalf of individuals, insurance companies and public agencies. Please call us today for a consultation.