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Ombudsman probes handling of complaints involving trees on Government land

6 October 2022

The Ombudsman, Ms Winnie Chiu, today (6 October) announced the launch of a direct investigation to examine the Government’s handling of complaints involving trees on Government land.

 

There are vast numbers of trees throughout the territory. Currently, the Government adopts an integrated approach for managing trees on Government land, under which the department responsible for the maintenance of a site or facility also takes care of the trees within the area. The Tree Management Office (TMO) under the Development Bureau (DEVB) co-ordinates the tree management work of various departments with an inter-departmental mechanism in place to resolve disputes over the scope and delineation of tree management responsibilities.

 

In the past three years (between 2019 and 2021), 1823 received more than 20,000 tree-related complaints annually, including an average of around 800 cases per year with disputes over departmental purview. Each year, dozens of such cases took more than three months to complete. Meanwhile, 1823’s data shows that as at March 2022, there was a backlog of more than 2,000 tree-related complaints, 80% of which had dragged on for 90 days or longer. In the past five years, the Office of The Ombudsman also received a total of around 120 complaints regarding tree management.

 

Ms Chiu said, “Some tree-related complaints remained unresolved for too long.  If not promptly addressed, problematic trees may cause environmental nuisances or even pose potential hazards to public safety. Hence, I have decided to initiate a direct investigation to examine the Government’s handling of complaints involving trees on Government land, including whether the TMO of the DEVB has co-ordinated and supervised the departments’ complaint handling adequately and effectively, and whether there is a clear delineation of tree management responsibilities among departments. Where necessary, I will make recommendations for improvement to the Government.”

 

The Office will launch this direct investigation with the DEVB. The Ombudsman welcomes information and views from members of the public on this topic. Written submissions should reach the Office of The Ombudsman by 6 November 2022:

 

Address: 30/F, China Merchants Tower, Shun Tak Centre, 168–200 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong
Fax: 2882 8149
Email: complaints@ombudsman.hk

 

Office of The Ombudsman

 

For media enquiries, please contact the External Relations Section at enquiry@ombudsman.hk.