Management of tree at Maryknoll Convent School

In response to a media enquiry, a spokesman for the Development Bureau said today (July 16) that the Government will arrange for experts to work with the management of Maryknoll Convent School to identify possible preservation options for an Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Island Pine) tree at the school site taking account of the school’s concern about student safety.

"We understand that a meeting with the school management has been scheduled for early next week to explore various options.  Apart from tree experts from within and outside the Government, we will invite representatives from the Antiquities and Monuments Office and the Architectural Services Department to attend as the tree falls within the site boundary of a declared monument and is adjacent to a slope.

"The Government fully appreciates the concern of the school management and agrees that if the tree poses significant risk, then priority should be accorded to ensuring the safety of students and pedestrians," the spokesman said.

The tree is located inside the campus of Maryknoll Convent School, which is a declared monument under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance. The tree was earlier identified by the school’s landscape contractor as potentially posing danger to students and pedestrians.

The tree team from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department  conducted a preliminary on-site inspection of the tree on July 14 and observed that it was in a stable and healthy condition.  No root plate movement or other disorders or termite activity were observed.

The spokesperson said that the school attached importance to conservation matters as demonstrated in its co-operation and support for the recent declaration of the school as a monument by the Antiquities Authority.

"We will extend to the school all the expertise and help that are needed. However, the management of this tree illustrates the difficulties in arriving at a consensus on tree conditions and its assessed risks as well as in ensuring public safety where the tree is located in areas with a lot of people flow. 

"These are the areas identified for improvement and action in the Report of the Task Force on Tree Management published on 29 June 2009," the spokesperson added.

Ends/Thursday, July 16, 2009
Issued at HKT 17:39