Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Trees in Penang are slowly dying

Trees in Penang are slowly dying - The Star 8 Jan 2007:
"Lack of proper maintenance for trees, especially heritage trees in George Town, resulted in the gradual decay of some of Penang’s magnificent trees.

Certified arborist Ridzuan Yahaya said ignorance on the part of local authorities to implement proper maintenance and treatment programmes had caused harm.

‘Tree doctors’ at work: (From left) Mohd Zailani, Ridzuan and Hasim checking a heritage tree along York Road on Saturday.
He said a majority of the heritage trees here were found in densely populated areas, next to roads with high traffic volume.

“Problems such as unsuitable soil, lack of earth space, trunk base covered in tar, absence of treatment, wrong pruning methods, pollution and lack of nutrients are some of the main concerns affecting these trees,” Ridzuan said.

Regarded as a “tree doctor,” Ridzuan and fellow “doctors” Hasim Ismail and Mohd Zailani Jamil, also certified arborists, were in town under a pilot programme introduced by the Penang Municipal Council to assess the condition of the trees and make recommendations.

The “tree doctors” were seen checking over 200 trees on Saturday in York Road, Macalister Road and Residensi Road where the majority of the heritage trees were found.

Mohd Zailani said trees could not talk to them and their job was to find out what they need to remain healthy.

Hasim explained that two reasons which caused the gradual deterioration of a tree were the way a tree was topped and pruned.

“Topping of a tree is usually done to reduce the weight of the crown area but when it’s done excessively, it destroys the natural architecture of a tree.

“Pruning, if done in the right way, is the best thing for a tree but it can be the worst thing if done wrongly,” he said.

Hasim said some of the trees he had checked here revealed that the flush cut method was used in pruning the trees, where a tree branch is cut too close to the trunk.

He said this causes the tree to gradually become rotten due to cavity and subsequently collapse. "

So much for trying to make it into the UNESCO Heritage list.

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