Multi-pronged approach to safeguard urban forest assets against brown root rot disease

Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      The Government is adopting a multi-pronged approach combining preventive and management tactics to safeguard the city's urban forest assets against Brown Root Rot (BRR) disease, and at the same time minimising the source of the disease through proper removal of infected trees followed by sanitation of the soil medium, the Secretary for the Development, Mr Eric Ma, said at the Symposium on Brown Root Rot Disease Management today (March 18).

     The Symposium, organised by the Hong Kong Institute of Horticultural Science, the Horticulture Exchange Foundation, and the School of Life Sciences of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in collaboration with the Greening, Landscape and Tree Management Section of the Development Bureau, aims to clear up confusion and focus on the diagnosis and control of the disease. It provides a platform for experts in related fields to share their latest research findings and experience of the disease. Scientists and tree experts from Hong Kong, Mainland China, the United States, Australia and Taiwan were invited to join the Symposium.

     Mr Ma said that the BRR, a disease with no known and effective cure yet, can pose a serious threat to public safety and the urban landscape.

     "BRR can be easily spread through root contact, infected soil, surface and sub-surface water, and even through the air.

This can lead to swift deterioration in the health of the tree, causing eventual decay and irreversible structural damage to tree roots, posing a serious threat to public safety. Equally concerning is the impact on our urban landscape, as we cannot currently re-use the infected site for replanting for a number of years," said Mr Ma.

     He added that the Government promulgated Guidelines on Brown Root Rot Disease in 2012. Annual Tree Risk Assessment inspections and routine patrol activities are carried out to ensure the systematic screening of trees under government management.

     "The Greening, Landscape and Tree Management Section of the Development Bureau has been collaborating with research institutions to conduct fungal surveys, diagnosis and preventive studies.

These research projects and the exchange of views with overseas experts have enhanced our understanding of the disease, which could help build a more holistic, active and successful management approach in the future," he said.

     Mr Ma added that the aspirations for sustainable urban forest management cannot be reliant only on the Government. Positive capacity building by raising overall professional knowledge and standards in the arboricultural industry, along with public education and outreach, will be key towards better management of BRR disease.

Published on: 2017-03-18

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