Defect-disorder and risk assessment of heritage trees in urban Hong Kong

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Journal Article

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Defects and disorders, Heritage trees, Tree risk assessment, Tree hazard rating, Tree conservation, Urban trees




Heritage trees in a city, echoing factors conducive to outstanding performance, deserve special care and conservation. To understand their structural and health conditions in urban Hong Kong, 30 defect-disorder (DD) symptoms (physical and physiological) subsumed under four tree-position groups (soil-root, trunk, branching, and crown-foliage) and tree hazard rating were evaluated. The surveyed 352 trees included 70 species; 14 species with 233 trees were native. More trees had medium height (10–15 m), medium DBH (1–1.5 m) and large crown (>15 m). In ten habitats, public park and garden (PPG) accommodated the most trees, and roadside traffic island (RTI) and public housing estate (PH) had the least. Tree dimensions and tree habitats were significantly associated. The associations between the 2831 DD and tree-position groups, tree habitats and tree hazard rating were analyzed. Fourteen trees from Ficus microcarpa, Ficus virens and Gleditsia fera had high hazard rating, 179 trees from 22 species moderate rating, and 159 trees from 55 species low rating. RTI, roadside tree strip (RTS), roadside tree pit (RTP), roadside planter (RP) and stone wall (SW) had more moderate hazard rating, and PPG, roadside slope (RS) and government, institutional and community land (GIC) more low rating. Redundancy analysis showed that DD were positively correlated with RTS, RTP, RP and SW, but negatively correlated with PPG, RS and GIC (p < 0.05). The DD significantly increased tree hazard rating and failure potential. Future management implications for heritage-tree conservation and enhancement focusing squarely on critical tree defect-disorder in urban Hong Kong were explored, with application to other compact cities.

Source Publication

Urban Forestry & Urban Greening

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