The Ombudsman probes into Government’s tree management regime and practices
23 September 2014
The Ombudsman, Ms Connie Lau, declares today (September 23) a direct investigation into the tree management regime and practices of the Tree Management Office (“TMO”) of the Development Bureau and other relevant departments. She welcomes views and information from the public on this subject.
There have been quite a few incidents of tree collapse in recent years, causing damage to property, and even injuries and loss of human lives. The Office of The Ombudsman has time and again received complaints from members of the public about Government’s failure to take timely action on their reports about dangerous trees, resulting in collapse of the trees and damage to property.
The responsibility of management of trees on Government land is shared by various departments. TMO is responsible for centrally overseeing the implementation of Government’s tree management policy, coordinating the practices of the other departments and providing professional advice. Our preliminary observations suggest that the departments’ performance varies, with some less than satisfactory.
As for trees on private land, the Office of The Ombudsman notes that while some land leases contain tree management provisions, those provisions focus on prohibiting removal of trees. There is neither a requirement for owners and users of the land to maintain and take care of trees properly, nor empowerment of Government to order relevant parties to prune or remove dangerous trees.
In this investigation, the Office of The Ombudsman will focus on examining:
(1) Government’s tree management regime and the relevant legal framework, and their effectiveness in ensuring public safety;
(2) TMO’s practices in overseeing and coordinating departments in their management of trees, and the effectiveness of such practices; and
(3) any room for improvement in respect of the above regime, legal framework and practices.
The Office of The Ombudsman will also look into the relevant procedures, practices, etc. of selected departments that are involved in tree management.
Members of the public with views or information on this subject are welcome to write to the Office of The Ombudsman by 23 October:
Address : 30/F, ChinaMerchantsTower, Shun Tak Centre
168-200 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong
Fax : 2882 8149
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of The Ombudsman
23 September 2014