Lands Department (LandsD) has recently updated the Practice Note (PN) "Tree Preservation and Tree Removal Application for Building Development in Private Projects", Issue No. 7/2007 to a later version Practice Note "Tree Preservation and Removal Proposals for Building Development in Private Projects - Compliance of Tree Preservation Clause under Lease", Issue No. 2/2020 early this year. Since our arborists have been working closely with the LandsD on all sorts of tree issues, ISA(Hong Kong Chapter) conducted a survey to collect your opinions regarding the new PN in June 2020.
Concerns are drawn up and the reply from the LandsD to the summarized questions are provided as below-
1. What is the professional requirement for the competent person who prepares the Tree Preservation and Removal Proposal for non-building development application (i.e. routine tree maintenance and risk assessment)?
Please refer to Footnote 4 and paragraph 38 of the "Guidance Notes on Tree Preservation and Removal Proposals for Building Development in Private Projects - Compliance of Tree Preservation Clause under Lease (the Guidance Notes)" that a service provider or an individual with recognized qualifications and expertise to undertake tree risk assessment and associated arboricultural works / operations as defined in Appendix –“Requirements of Qualified Professionals for Arboricultural Works” of the “Handbook on Tree Management” promulgated by the Greening, Landscape and Tree Management Section of the Development Bureau (DEVB) shall be appliable for application under routine tree maintenance and risk assessment.
2. What are the criteria in approving the compensatory planting proposal when 1:1 ratio in quantity cannot be achieved?
For non-building development application (i.e. routine tree maintenance and risk assessment), please refer to paragraphs 13 to 15 of the Guidance Notes for the requirements of Compensatory Planting Proposal. Should 1:1 compensatory tree planting ratio in terms of quantity cannot be achieved, deviation from the compensatory principle should be supported by full justifications.
As each Compensatory Planting Proposal of an application should be considered and reviewed on the case’s own merits, it should at least demonstrate but not limited to the following considerations:
i) deviation from the compensatory principle as related to slope works with replanting of whips or seedlings in form of woodland mix;
ii) reasonable amount of compensatory trees provided to suit site condition and land use;
iii) all greening opportunities within the lot being fully utilized; and
iv) sufficient areas are designated for tree planting and taking into account the growing space required by the retained, transplanted and compensatory trees up to their maturity for future healthy growth.
3. The timeframe for each application varies from 3 months to 1 year accordingly to our members’ experience. Would DLO consider formulating performance pledge in handling and replying the application?
From the current Performance Pledges, LandsD commits to give a reply within 8-week upon receipt of an application for approval of Tree Preservation and Removal Proposal, subject to the application being in compliance with the relevant Departmental Practice Notes.
4. Would DLO clarify what document/report is required for tree removal and compensation in non-building development application?
Please refer to paragraphs. (A) 2 to 6, (B) 7 to 11, (C) 12, (D) 13 to 17 under “Mandatory Information to be provided in the submission of TPRP" of the Guidance Notes for details. In gist, Tree Survey Plan, Tree Assessment Schedule, Photographic Record of existing trees and Compensatory Planting Proposal are mandatory information required for the tree removal and compensation proposal (TPRP) of the non-building development application for the compliance of tree preservation clause under lease.
Moreover, service provider or an individual with recognized qualifications and expertise to undertake tree risk assessment and associated arboricultural works / operations may refer to those relevant information under the "Information About Tree Maintenance For Private Properties" available at DEVB website < https://www.greening.gov.hk/en/tree_care/info_private.html)> .
For details of the new Practice Note Issue No. 2/2020 and the Guidance Notes, you might click on the link below,
Practice Note Issue No. 2/2020