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430 tree failure incidents reported in 2023: Desmond Lee

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee disclosed that 430 tree failure incidents were reported in 2023, compare to 1,250 cases in 2014.

In a written reply to PQ filed by WP MP He Ting Ru, he also revealed that NParks received an annual average of 87 claims for damages or personal injury from 2014 to 2023.

A tragic incident in February 2021, where a 38-year-old woman lost her life after a tree fell at Marsiling Park, heightened public scrutiny on NParks’ tree inspection practices for public safety.

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SINGAPORE: In 2023, 430 incidents of tree failure were reported. Over the period from 2014 to 2023, NParks received an annual average of 87 claims for damages to property or personal injury resulting from incidents involving trees on public property.

This was revealed by Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development in a written reply on Wednesday (10 Jan) to a Parliamentary question filed by Ms He Ting Ru, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament for Sengkang GRC.

These numbers exclude trees found in the town council and private properties, as NParks does not manage these areas.

Minister Lee highlighted that due to the reinforced NParks’ tree management regime, the annual number of tree failure incidents witnessed a substantial 65% decline in 2023 compared to the 1250 cases recorded in 2014.

Ms He asked the Minister over the last 10 years, how many reports have NParks received regarding tree failure incidents on public property, town council property and private property respectively.

She also sought details of how many cases are on trees which had previously been flagged or reported to NParks on grounds of safety concerns.

Ms He’s other PQ focused on the number of claims and payments for damages or injuries caused by public property trees for the past ten years, along with the average payment amount

In response, Mr Lee said NParks manages over two million urban trees in Singapore’s parks, park connectors, State lands, and along roads.

Mr Lee emphasized that NParks has a comprehensive tree management programme that includes a rigorous tree inspection and maintenance regime aligned with the best practices of the International Society of Arboriculture.

“Regular tree inspections are carried out by trained inspectors every six to 24 months, with trees that are close to areas with high pedestrian or traffic activity inspected more frequently.”

He said upon receiving reports of trees with potential safety concerns, NParks will conduct tree risk assessments and take relevant risk mitigation actions where necessary.

From 2014 to 2023, NParks received an annual average of 87 claims for damages to property or personal injury caused by trees in these areas, of which about one-third of the claims resulted in payments.

The payment amounts depend on the circumstances and merits of each case, he said.

“NParks will continue to review and adapt its tree management regime to incorporate best practices to minimise the risk of tree failures, ” Mr Lee added.

However, Mr Lee did not address Mr He’s question regarding the number of cases involving trees that had previously been flagged or reported to NParks due to safety concerns.

Fatal tree failure accident happened in 2021

In February 2021, a shocking case happened when a 38-year-old woman died after a tree fell on her at Marsiling Park.

Commissioner of Parks and Recreation at the National Parks Board (NParks), Dr Leong Chee Chiew, was quoted by The Straits Times (ST) at the time saying that the 20m-tall Araucaria excelsa tree, which had a girth of 1.3m, was found to be healthy when an inspection was conducted on it in April 2020.

During a coroner’s inquiry in October 2022, a principal arborist said termites were the primary cause of the tree failure, based on his assessment after examining the fallen tree.

Mr Thomas said the termites had degraded the wood to such an extent that the tree had very thin residual wall thickness.

“It was just gravity or wind that was going to push the (tree) to the point of failure.”

This was not the first fatal tree failure incident in Singapore.

On 11 February 2017, a 38-year-old Indian woman was killed after a 40m-tall Tembusu tree fell on her at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Her 39-year-old French husband and their two children, aged one, were injured in the incident.

Besides them, a 26-year-old Singaporean woman was also injured in the incident.

Recent tree failure accident with reported injuries

In September 2023, another incident occurred on Ophir Road, where a tree fell on a pickup truck, hospitalizing three occupants and damaging several cars.

Following this, a tree at City Plaza in Geylang was removed, and the mall engaged an arborist to inspect the remaining trees.

Additionally, there were instances of trees falling on a road divider on the Seletar Expressway, hitting passing cars and causing injuries in the preceding year.

Notably, in 2019, there were 420 recorded tree failure incidents, reducing to 340 cases in 2020.

 

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The major reason why NFucks is doing such regular pruning(/vandalism) of trees is because we have a biomass (supposedly green) power generation plant (in Garden’s by the Bay) that NEEDS wood as a fuel. NFucks is wasting a whole lot of public money paying sub-contractors who hire foreign workers to regularly prune these trees. Some of the pruned branches subsequently die, rot and fall down. Some pruned trees NEVER recover and eventually have to be chopped down completely. NFucks NFucks NFucks …. I would like to lay the blame on Desmond Lee for being a putz but NFucks was ALREADY… Read more »

What ever tragic occur.

Not a concern .

Have to frequently check those trees / branches on that 2 plot of land .

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