Minister: Tree checks done regularly

Sturdy support: A lychee tree atop Mount Rosie in the Novena area is propped up by a permanent galvanised steel structure built to withstand elements. — The Straits Times/ANN

THE National Parks Board (NParks) carries out rigorous tree inspections every six to 24 months, with trees that are close to areas with high pedestrian or traffic activity receiving more frequent checks.

The tree inspection regime follows the best management practices set by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), Minister for National Development Desmond Lee told Parliament yesterday.

“During a tree inspection, NParks’ inspectors conduct a comprehensive visual examination of the tree crown, branches, trunk and roots to assess the tree’s health and stability, ” said the minister.

“Trees that are found to have possible defects are subjected to an additional in-depth inspection, which involves the use of diagnostic equipment to assess the internal condition of the tree.”

Lee added that since November 2016, such in-depth inspections were also conducted annually for trees of more than 4m in girth as a precautionary measure in response to changing weather conditions.

This went beyond the ISA’s prescribed best management practices, he noted.

He was responding to questions by Hany Soh (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) and Shawn Huang (Jurong GRC) on NParks’ tree inspection regime after a woman was killed by a 20m-tall tree that fell on her in Marsiling Park last month.

The minister said NParks had other measures in place to reduce the risk of such incidents, including targeted arboriculture treatments to improve general tree health and their ability to withstand severe weather conditions.

Trees also receive regular pruning to remove weak, dry or overgrown branches, which improves their structure and balance.

NParks is also progressively replacing storm-vulnerable tree species with hardier variants and using technology to analyse risks and improve inspection processes.

It also offers training for NParks staff as well as tree care professionals in the private sector and other public agencies that manage trees. — The Straits Times/ANN

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