Rules & Regulation
Full Understanding of the Rules for Better Performance
Hong Kong government has a clear definition of tree in the system of Tree Risk Assessment. Trees which have 95mm in diameter or above at the height of 1.3 m (Diameter at Breast Height, DBH) can be regarded as trees.
According to the government’s recommendations, trees in the first class (located at street or road which is frequently used) need an inspection once a year, while all Old and Valuable Trees (OVT) and Stone Wall Trees need to be checked twice a year. According to different location of trees, tree care can be divided into two parts: construction site and private land.
Construction site / Construction works
Notes of tree pruning/ removal in construction site
- The government has incorporated regulatory conditions into public works contracts requiring enhanced protection to those preserved trees within the works areas.
- If tree removal or large scale pruning is needed for the works, relevant approval from responsible departments is required.
- Tree removal application requires detail information of the trees, reasons for the proposed action and replanting proposal prepared by Certified Arborist. Trees can be removed after permission is granted by government authorities. The authorities will not approve the tree removal without sufficient and reasonable grounds.
- In the replanting proposal, government has the right to require contractor compensates the removed trees with not less than 1:1 ratio (according to the total number of removed trees and the total DBH of removed trees).
If an old and valuable tree is damaged or removed by contractor, contractor needs to pay the cost of repairment and maintenance to the government.
Notes of tree care in construction site
- According to the general condition of tender, contractors are responsible to protect the retained trees in construction site.
- The contractors should appoint Certified Arborist to assess the trees’ health status and structural condition in construction site regularly.
- In order to ensure the standard of tree preservation and prevent illegal tree removal by contractors, government has the right to require contractors to pay for replanting a specified number and size of trees for replacement of the affected trees.
- According to the damage of the trees, the contractors may be penalized ranging from ten thousand to hundred thousand dollars.
- The contractors’ performance of tree preservation will be reflected in performance appraisal report which may affect the chance of securing future tender of public works contracts.
- All registered OVTs, stone wall trees or other important trees need to be maintained properly. Prior to any pruning works, or works commenced near those trees, assessment by Certified Arborist is needed to estimate the effect to those trees, and report to the relevant government department.
Private lot and property
Information about tree pruning and removal for private properties
- Most of the land lease of private lot contains tree preservation clause and landscape clauses since 1970s. The lot owner has to, except in an emergency situation, make a prior application to the District Lands Office (DLO) of Lands Department and obtain a written consent before removing or heavy pruning of trees within the lot.
- To apply for tree removal or heavy pruning, the private lot owner is required to submit a report prepared by a professional meeting the requirements specified in the Practice Note Issue No. 7/2007 available at Lands Department’s website, providing sufficient justifications and evidence for consideration.
- Where the lease of a private lot contains a tree preservation clause, if the lot owner carries out tree removal or heavy pruning within the lot without DLO’s written consent, appropriate action will be taken by DLO upon detection. Such action includes issuing warning letters to the owner, requiring the owner to carry out compensatory planting or pay a premium.
- DLO reserves the right of resumption of private lot if owners violated the tree preservation clause of lease.
Information about tree maintenance for private properties
- Regardless of whether the lease contains any clause requiring the owner of a private lot to properly maintain the trees within the lot, it is the responsibility of the owner to properly manage the property including the trees planted on the lot.
- Private lot owners may be held liable for any casualty or property loss arising from their failure to properly maintain the trees within their properties.
- Shared responsibility coordinated by Owners Committee (OC) is recommended if the private lot/property belongs to multiple ownership.
- Lot owner should appoint qualified contractors or professional bodies(can refer to the tree website of the Development Bureau) to provide tree management services.
- In addition, at least one annual tree risk assessment for the trees within the lot boundary is recommended by government.
- All property owners and estate management should take care of their trees in advance of the wet season where inclement weather conditions can result in greater risk from trees. Owners and property managers should arrange tree inspection for their trees by certified arborist if required. After inclement weather events (e.g. typhoons), it is advisable to re-check the trees in case they have been negatively affected.
- Owners and property managers may be held liable for any casualty or property loss arising from their failure to properly maintain the trees within their properties.
Tree Removal Application
- Permission from Lands department is compulsory if tree removal is needed for private project.
- Applicants should submit the following documents (filled out by Certified Arborist):
- Tree Removal Proposal
- Detailed Compensatory Planting Proposal
- Tree assessment schedule
- The Government recommends that all tree works should be supervised and enforced by a qualified person who possess horticultural, arboricultural or tree care knowledge.
- After the completion of the works, contractor should submit a completion report including information about the transplanted or pruned trees with related pictures.