I am disappointed with the truth. They are doing the right thing but I’m just disappointed. Really? Please read on.
In this year, there are a lot of fallen trees in Singapore. Largely due to the change in weather condition. Heavy wind and flash food contributed a lot to it. The trees by the roadside has grown for so many years and is suiting itself to the usual wind speed and water supply. Suddenly, when a stronger wind attack the tree, the branches fail, fall and hit human or property. So, many property management is concerning about this problem and it concerns safety of human life. So these property management is issuing orders to prune down all the branches to make safe, just in case any strong wind attack, there will not be human casualty, property damage or any ‘case’ to attend.
As an ISA (http://www.isa-arbor.com/) certified Arborist, I do understand more about trees and it’s defect. The trees were being pruned down and were left with 20% of leaves, as compared to 1 hour ago.
Their reason of pruning:
They want to make safe.
So what will happened leaving 20% of the leaves? I do not bother to explain much here. In years to come, the management will need to remove the tree. So why spend money to prune the trees now?
‘but if we remove the big trees and plant the small trees, we will recive a lot of complaint from the public;
So, what is the reason of planting small trees? It is to hope that one day these small trees will grow bigger and provide shade, provide oxygen, take in carbon dioxide and help to green the earth. So when these trees are big, the management will ask contractors to prune or to remove because it is not safe! Then the cycle continues…
Why not think of a long term solution? Management is spending money on contractors to do unnecessary jobs because most management do not know what trees are. When they give money to the contractors, the contractors will do the job because the contractors are given reward ($$$)!
The contractors know that by reducing 80% of that tree foliage is not a long term plan for the property owner/management.
The contractors know that by taking 80% of that tree foliage has reward to feed the company expenses.
Sam and I were having breakfast at my neighborhood coffeeshop and saw some contractors pruning these 2 healthy trees. I approached the supervisor of the team and asked why they want to prune these 2 trees. His answer was the standard answer from EVERY contractors, plus, he fold his arms and look at the sky when he talk to me (as a member of public).
He added: if you have any enquiries, please call the town council directly.
I went to look for the town council contact number, called and wanted to talk directly to the horticulture officer on why is he pruning down these 2 healthy trees. The officer was not around. The receptionist took down my contact and they also want to know my full address when I just call to question. Are they doing any record on me?
I told the receptionist if there is anyway to stop the contractors right now? Because they are removing life. The receptionist just said she will let me know as soon as possible.
Pruning tree is not like removing any structure or fixture. Once it is pruned, it cannot be replaced or fixed back. Money cannot buy back the same health of the tree again. Their action must be stopped immediately.
It is like seeing someone being attacked, beaten up and you know that the victim has to be saved and the attacker has to be stopped immediately, and you call the police and the phone operator at the police station says: sorry, the police in-charge is not around, when he is back I will ask him to give you a call.
Then who is going to stop this crime?
Well, I am not saying that it is a crime to cut away 80% of the foliage of these 2 healthy trees. So I took a chair, went into the ‘keep-out’ area and sit under the tree so that the workers can stop cutting the tree.
Te supervisor came to me, shouted at me and used some 4 letters behind my back to ask me to get out of his work area because of safety issue. I ignored him because my intention was just to stop them from cutting more on these 2 healthy trees. He really got angry and he called the police. I sat down there but the workers were still working on the tree but they threw the pruned branches to the other side so that the branches will not hit me. I know that I am causing inconvenience for them to make money.
The police came. Ask me to stepped outside of the area because of safety issue. I gave them my Identity Card. They are coming to help me because of my safety. I tried to explained to them why am I doing this but their understanding towards trees are minimal. The police also give me a Q&A, trying to enlighten me in his way. He mentioned something like: if your hair is long, do you think you need to cut? when i tried to argue this theory against tree pruning, he interrupted me by saying: JUST ANSWER YES OR NO. They just know that their job was fulfilled, they know that they have attended the complained call and they have done their duty. I told them about trees and their understanding about it is limited. I just have to obey the law enforcer. The team of police left after having a talk with that angry supervisor that made the call and I heard them laughing together before they left.
The conclusion of the whole settlement is that I want to meet the person that made the decision to prune down these 2 healthy trees and yet stop whoever that is doing the pruning job on these 2 trees.
The manager of the contractor company came. He is also in his anger when he talked to me because he feel that I am giving him trouble for unnecessary things. The manager also gave me the standard answer, just like what everyone did.
Then the person that I wanted to see came down. He is from the town council. He’s knowledge of trees is good and he knows a lot of science to it. That is the correct person that I want to talk to BUT what I want to hear is not about the science about pruning the trees. I want to know:
WHY ARE THEY PRUNING MORE THAN 80% OF THE FOLIAGE ON THESE 2 HEALTHY TREES.
I did not spot any dead branches, defective branches or defective attachments from what they had removed. It is all healthy branches.
Healthy branches were removed.
Size of healthy limb/branch as big as this was being removed. i didn't see anything wrong with it and yet, they remove it. it took years and effort to grow the tree.
The town council arborist told me it is because of safety issue. (Same like everyone’s answer).
Strong wind will blow and these smaller branches will break and hit this and that.
So I asked him, is there someone in your organization that can determine which particular tree to be pruned and how much to prune?
He said yes, they have their own team of arborist to do assessment.
Arborist that is doing trees assessments are very conservative. They are like doctors. Doctors will not guarantee patient of 100% recovery on any treatment. So that is what I meant by conservative.
So, these arborist, to safe keep their job, they will suggest to prune all the trees. In this case, these arborist are saved. But in some cases, these people will feel that some trees are ok not to prune BUT their superior, being the director of the organization, not trained in trees but trained in decision making and responsibility handling, will tell them off to prune off all, just in case…..
he is applying an ancient evil Chinese general quote:
Better to kill by mistake rather than to let one escape
So now you see the big picture?
Why do they do it? I give you a summary:
Tree workers: they are paid by the company.
Tree contractor company: they are paid by the Town management to do it.
Law enforcer: no comments and I do not want to comment.
Town Management: They have to safe keep their job in case public accident happen and they can show that they have done their job.
Then what is my point of all these troubles? My point is that everyone just want to keep their own job alive, able to get reward and use the reward feel good about themselves, forgetting about what is right and what not, forgetting about moral values.
I am not saying that pruning 80% of that 2 healthy trees is forgetting about moral value.
I love trees. I do understand some trees do create safety issue but they need to be assessed by professional with good moral and ethic values. These assessors must be balance between safety, ecology control, ethics and monies reward. Look at the trees at orchard road.
If the property owner wants to plant a tree to give shade, then I think it is not correct because by looking at the cases at my neighborhood, they had prune down the trees because they only love the wood. Really? If they want to have shade for the public, they can do something else like building structural canopy.
But if they want to plant a tree because of ecology issue like making the city looks greener or giving more carbon dioxide with oxygen exchange, then they should really think about how to sustain all these trees! Just look at Orchard road.
Imagine they are doing the same thing at orchard road, the management will sure get a lot of complaint from the top people and got their job unsecured.
So you see? Why are the trees different in orchard road and the trees different in my neighborhood? They have the same size and species of trees but they are being treated differently. WHY?
My neighborhood road.
My neighborhood road.
Orchard Road tree.
My neighborhood tree.
Does some road has higher budget for trees assessment?
Maybe people in orchard road is worth more than my neighborhood.
So from the above pictures, we can see that size is not an issue, it's how the council manage the trees! The trees at orchard road are much bigger than my neighborhood but yet, they could maintain it at a proper level and at the same time, provide shade, control the amount of birds. but look at my neighborhood. now the birds are homeless.
Imagine the management is going to prune the trees in orchard road, same 'hairstyle' like my neighborhood tree.
What we need to solve this issue is not to prune away or remove everything when decision makers are unclear of which tree is really safe/unsafe to keep. .
1) We need to strengthen the trees to defense against external destructive factor instead of removing/prune down the trees in case of external destructive factor.
2) The public must be educated about the benefit of trees in our life.
3) Make transparency: Why is the decision made on action done on such act. It should start from policy makers, to town management, to what factor made them to prune down a tree, to their future plans they have for the town, to expenditure and investment. I didn't know our town council invested in funds until the Layman Brothers fell in 2008. by making transparency, the public are more aware of what is happening and feel being part of the council.
There was a time when the government advertise on TV on how to throw rubbish. They showed household rubbish were thrown into a plastic bag (from supermarket) that was easily installed in our household bin. when the rubbish bag is full, the actor took it out, tied it and throw it down the bin. then below, the big bin collector will be more easier to clear the big bin. so what happened after this? when we go to supermarket, we will request for more plastic bags because we were 'educated' this way. The TV/poster informed us that we have to put our rubbish in these rubbish bag. So, what happen when we need more and more plastic bags from supermarket? you know it better...
So, do we need to tear down all the high rise building in Singapore because there might be earthquake next year or wait for the first earthquake to happen then we settle it?
The western way of solving problem is direct and fast but do not solve the root of the problem. Is our environment forcing us to adopt the western way of solving problem?
example: a guy always have headache and he took panadol (a brand of pain killer). It really works for the first stage of the headache, it's fast, cheap and effective! but during later stage, he found that eating 2 panadols a day do not help the headache, he increase to 4, then 8. When 8 panadols does not solve the problem, he went to see a better doctor, then the doctor prescribe a stronger type of pain killer. In the end, his mum changed a sleeping pillow for for to sleep and the pain is gone but ended up, he got liver problem because overdosage of painkillers.
If you are a property owner reading this,
If you are a council leader reading this,
If you are a tree contractor / arborist reading this,
If you are the policy maker reading this,
Please help to think of a big picture on how we, Singapore, can go towards a better Singapore.
We can built a better home, we can built a better earth.
So what if we can built a better home where the earth cannot be rebuilt as it is already depreciating.
When i took this picture, they had already started the pruning and removed 20% of the foliage.
This is what is left after they prune. A piece of wood and some leaves.
After they left, Sam and i took a walk around all the trees that they have pruned. Its sad. They pruned down 80% on some and crown lifted some. They worked on all the trees except this one that is in the planter box. 100% untouched. this tree is also quite hugh and it is near the playground where the target rating is much higher than the rest. I heard a passer by giving remark that they did not prune this tree because they are not paid to do so as it belongs to another management. i do not know how true it is.
Please give me some comments.