Records concerning decision to cut or prune Banyan trees on Bonham Road on 7th August

The request was partially successful.

Dear Highways Department,

On 7th August 2015, four Banyan trees were pruned and one cut on Bonham Road by the Highways Department.

Please make available to me, as required under the Code on Access to Information:

1) Any communication with the Tree Management Office concerning said trees.
2) Any internal documents regarding the said trees, including any documents that detail the decision-making process that led to the cutting and pruning of said trees as well as any internal communication discuss said trees.

Please do not hesitate to ask if anything about this request is not clear.

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

Dear Guy Freeman,

Thank you for your email dated 10 August 2015 requesting for a copy of the
information regarding the emergency felling of the stonewall trees at
Bonham Road on 7 August 2015.

Like many nearby residents and citizens in Hong Kong, we, as the
management department of those stonewall trees, have huge sentimental
attachment to those stonewall trees.  It was a difficult and painful
decision making process on the emergency felling of the stonewall trees at
Bonham Road.

There were 3 press releases issued on 7 August 2015, 12 August 2015 and 17
August 2015 explaining to the public the decision and action for the
emergency felling of the stonewall trees.  In response to your request for
the information on the communication with the Tree Management Office and
the documents detailing the process leading to the emergency felling of
the stonewall trees on 7 August 2015, we would like to advise that the
Highways Department issued a report on 12 August 2015 with detailed
information including case background, review of the tree collapse
incident on 22 July 2015, monitoring of the stonewall trees and the
emergency tree removal works on 7 August 2015.  The relevant press
releases and the report are accessible from the following URLs:

Report on Emergency Felling of Four Stonewall Trees at Bonham Road
[1]http://www.hyd.gov.hk/en/publications_an...

Press Release on 7 August 2015
[2]http://www.hyd.gov.hk/en/publications_an...

Press Release on 12 August 2015
[3]http://www.hyd.gov.hk/en/publications_an...

Press Release on 17 August 2015
[4]http://www.devb.gov.hk/en/publications_a...

I hope the above information would enable you to better understand our
concerns and rationale which led to the emergency felling of the stonewall
trees at Bonham Road to ensure public safety.

Should you have any queries, please contact our Mr. John HC Chan, Senior
Landscape Architect/VM(U&Is), at 3903 6664.

Regards,
Kerry WU
Access to Information Officer
Highways Department

From: Guy Freeman <[FOI #28 email]>
To: FOI requests at Highways Department <[email address]>
Date: 10/08/2015 15:31
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Records concerning decision to
cut or prune Banyan trees on Bonham Road on 7th August

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Dear Highways Department,

On 7th August 2015, four Banyan trees were pruned and one cut on Bonham
Road by the Highways Department.

Please make available to me, as required under the Code on Access to
Information:

1) Any communication with the Tree Management Office concerning said
trees.
2) Any internal documents regarding the said trees, including any
documents that detail the decision-making process that led to the cutting
and pruning of said trees as well as any internal communication discuss
said trees.

Please do not hesitate to ask if anything about this request is not clear.

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

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References

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2. http://www.hyd.gov.hk/en/publications_an...
3. http://www.hyd.gov.hk/en/publications_an...
4. http://www.devb.gov.hk/en/publications_a...
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Dear Highways Department,

Thank you for your response. It provides a good overview of public materials concerning this incident.

However, my request has not been fulfilled. I still require copies of the communications you had with the TMO, and copies of any internal documents produced by HyD leading to the decision to cut down the trees. Please provide these within 10 calendar days from receipt of this email.

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

Dear Guy Freeman,

Thank you for your email dated 26 August 2015 requesting for a review of
the application for information regarding the emergency felling of the
stonewall trees at Bonham Road on 7 August 2015.

We are processing your application at this stage.  Pursuant to paragraph
1.16 of the code, you will be advised further in relation to your request
on or before 15 September 2015.

Should you have any questions in the meantime, please contact me at 2762
3329.

Regards,
Kerry WU
Access to Information Officer
Highways Department

From: Guy Freeman <[電郵地址]>
To: [電郵地址]
Date: 26/08/2015 00:21
Subject: Re: Fw: Freedom of Information request - Records concerning
decision to cut or prune Banyan trees on Bonham Road on 7th
August

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Dear Highways Department,

Thank you for your response. It provides a good overview of public
materials concerning this incident.

However, my request has not been fulfilled. I still require copies of the
communications you had with the TMO, and copies of any internal documents
produced by HyD leading to the decision to cut down the trees. Please
provide these within 10 calendar days from receipt of this email.

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

show quoted sections

Dear Highways Department,

Thank you for reviewing my application for information. I look forward to a response on or before 15 September 2015.

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

1 Attachment

Dear Guy Freeman,

Thank you for your email.  Subsequent to our interim reply dated 4
September 2015, we would like to provide further information and response
as follows:

In response to your request for a copy of our communication with the Tree
Management Office and our internal documents about the decision to fell
the stonewall trees at Bonham Road on 7 August 2015, we have reviewed your
request and would like to provide the following response:

A)  Communication with the Tree Management Office

The felling of four stonewall trees at Bonham Road on 7 August 2015 was an
emergency operation to protect public safety.  After identification of the
sudden proliferation of cracks at various locations of the stone parapet
wall behind the trees and the alarming appearance of gaps at the crest of
the stonewall, an urgent site meeting was immediately held with the Tree
Management Office (TMO) on 7 August 2015 where direct discussion was made
on the likely imminent failure at the root anchorage of the four stonewall
trees.  The urgent communication leading to the decision to fell the trees
for the sake of public safety was included in our detailed report entitled
"Report on Emergency Felling of Stonewall Trees on Slope No. 11SW-A/R577
at Bonham Road / St Stephen's Lane on 7 August 2015" uploaded to the
website of Highways Department (HyD) on 12 August 2015 for the tree
felling incident.  In our previous reply, we have provided the URL to this
report where the public can access for information.

B) Internal documents leading to the felling of the stonewall trees

HyD is responsible for the maintenance of vegetation growing on registered
slopes (including stonewalls) under the purview of the department.  There
were 6 stonewall trees (namely T1, T2, T3, T4, T5 and T6) grown on slope
no. 11SW-A/R577 between Bonham Road and Stephen’s Lane.  Signs of risk of
root detachment and trunk cavity at Trees T4 and T5 were observed.  In
view of the potential risks to public, HyD had commissioned a study by an
external expert to identify the factors affecting the health and stability
of the stonewall trees, formulate suitable maintenance measures for their
sustainable growth and advise on mitigation measures to minimize the risk
of tree failure (the Study).

The Study was completed in 2013.  The stability conditions of T1, T2, T3
and T6 were rated as at a low risk level, while T4 and T5 were rated as
with an alarming risk.  Four mitigation measures for reduction of the risk
level of T4 and T5 were suggested in the Study.  A copy of the study
report entitled "Study on Stonewall Trees: Maintenance Approach for the
Stonewall Trees on Slope no. 11SW-A/R577, Bonham Road" is enclosed below
for information.

However, those mitigation measures suggested in the Study, together with
three other alternative mitigation measures conceived by HyD, were all
considered not feasible mainly due to the various actual site constraints
(e.g. congested and narrow carriageway and footpath, heavy traffic,
existence of major underground utilities, etc).  

On 24 April 2013, HyD and TMO, together with member of Expert Panel on
Tree Management (EPTM), attended a joint site inspection to the stonewall
trees.  The  findings of the Study and the findings of the feasibility
assessment on the suggested mitigation measures were discussed.  Two more
mitigation measures were further suggested by EPTM during the site
inspection.  Following that, HyD further considered the suggestions but
they were also found not feasible.  The details of the feasibility
assessments on the suggested mitigation measures were summarized in the
reports entitled "Assessment Report on Feasibility of Tree Support Systems
proposed in Study on Stonewall Trees on Slope no. 11SW-A/R577, Bonham
Road, Hong Kong and Further Engineering Assessment In response to
suggestion made by Expert Panel on Tree Management (EPTM) For Stonewall
Tree No. T4 on Slope no. 11SW-A/R577 Bonham Road, Hong Kong ", a copy each
of which is also enclosed below for information.
In the absence of feasible mitigation measures to support T4 and T5 so as
to address their alarming risks to public safety, a substantial pruning
operation to the tree T4 (about 60%) and the tree T5 (about 25%) was
carried out on 17 May 2013.  Subsequently, pruning of T1, T2, T3 and T6
(about 5-10%) had also been conducted in June 2013.

After that, regular inspection and maintenance including removal of dead
and damaged branches were conducted to the six stonewall trees.  Despite
the efforts, the OVT T2, which was assessed under the Study to be of low
risk of instability, suddenly collapsed on 22 July 2015 without any
fore-warning signs of distress.  Alarmed by the cracks identified at the
parapet wall behind the adjacent tree T3 during the detailed inspection
carried out immediately after the collapse incident, the tree was also
removed on the same day.  In addition, pruning (about 10-20%) to the
remaining 4 stonewall trees, namely T1, T4, T5 and T6, were carried out on
22 July 2015 in order to reduce the risk of tree failure.  Frequent
inspections were also conducted thereafter so as to closely monitor the
stability conditions of the remaining trees.

Despite all these efforts to maintain the trees, new signs of instability
suddenly became noticeable on 5 August 2015 leading to the difficult and
painful decision of removing all the remaining four stonewall trees at
Bonham Road.  The detailed account of the emergency felling of the trees
has already been included in our report uploaded to the website of HyD.

Should you have any queries, please contact our Mr. Augustine LAM,
Landscape Architect, at 3903 6648.

Regards,
Kerry WU
Access to Information Officer
Highways Department

From: Kerry SC WU/HYD/HKSARG
To: Guy Freeman <[FOI #28 email]>
Date: 04/09/2015 21:18
Subject: Fw: Freedom of Information request - Records concerning decision
to cut or prune Banyan trees on Bonham Road on 7th August

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Dear Guy Freeman,

Thank you for your email dated 26 August 2015 requesting for a review of
the application for information regarding the emergency felling of the
stonewall trees at Bonham Road on 7 August 2015.

We are processing your application at this stage.  Pursuant to paragraph
1.16 of the code, you will be advised further in relation to your request
on or before 15 September 2015.

Should you have any questions in the meantime, please contact me at 2762
3329.

Regards,
Kerry WU
Access to Information Officer
Highways Department

From: Guy Freeman <[FOI #28 email]>
To: [email address]
Date: 26/08/2015 00:21
Subject: Re: Fw: Freedom of Information request - Records concerning
decision to cut or prune Banyan trees on Bonham Road on 7th
August

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Highways Department,

Thank you for your response. It provides a good overview of public
materials concerning this incident.

However, my request has not been fulfilled. I still require copies of the
communications you had with the TMO, and copies of any internal documents
produced by HyD leading to the decision to cut down the trees. Please
provide these within 10 calendar days from receipt of this email.

Yours faithfully,

Guy Freeman

show quoted sections