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Conservation of Giant Native Twin Trees

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Gammon Construction and Sun Hung Kai Properties share the belief that trees are important elements of Hong Kong’s landscape and valuable assets in our community, therefore their conservation is essential in any development project. In November 2019, the two companies collaborated to successfully transplant giant native ‘twin’ trees at Shap Sze Heung, where the Sai Sha Road Widening Works are underway, using a novel method not seen before in Hong Kong.

 

Consisting of two Ficus microcarpa trees that have merged into one root system, the trees are over 50 years old and weigh more than 170 tonnes. Originally standing as a landmark near Nai Chung Public Transport Interchange (PTI), they were moved to a location near the new PTI to provide a better area to grow and to minimise impact from nearby construction activities. They are now living in an enlarged planter to allow the root system to spread and encourage vigorous growth.

 

Minimising safety risks to people and avoiding tree failure by using the shortest path and providing stable and steady mechanical transport were key considerations in the transplantation process. Remarkably, and for the first time in Hong Kong, an integrated double self-propelled modular transporter was used during the move to improve transportation, logistics and safety.

 

Also important was early engagement with construction and landscape teams, and detailed planning on the lifting system, transportation route and method at design stage. Smart sensors, photogrammetry and 3D scanning technology were also applied and, when combined with the concerted effort of all parties including Gammon’s in-house arborist and external academic advisor, led to a safe and successful transplantation process. The reduction in number and duration of construction activities required also resulted in a lower carbon footprint.

 

The Gammon project team takes a holistic digital approach to managing the many trees on the Sai Sha Road Widening Project. To greatly reduce the chance of tree failure, the team uses an i-Tree app for digital inventory, wireless motion sensors for real-time health and stability monitoring, as well as integration of motion data into a hybrid reality platform for data analysis in a 3D model.

 

As for the twin trees, the project team and local community were delighted to find a new home for them to flourish within the neighbourhood of Shap Sze Heung.