WE have always loved driving around our neighbourhood admiring the tall huge trees that green our environment. We can stare at the beauty of trees in our local playgrounds and open spaces. But in recent times, we have started wondering if that tree would fall and hit us if we happen to be driving by it during a major thunderstorm. Several cases in Kuala Lumpur; one which killed a motorists have raised some concern about the safety of our trees in Subang Jaya. We caught up with Subang Jaya City Council’s Landscape Department senior assistant director Azlina Mat Salim to find out more about what it takes to continue greening the city while keeping everyone safe.

Q1: What is the percentage of greenery we have in the whole Subang Jaya City Council. Ratio between development vs greenery.

A1: It is presently around 80:20 according to the Subang Jaya Local Plan 2035.

Q2: What is the annual budget for maintenance of our trees?

A2: We have a budget of around RM7mil for 2024. Planting of trees take up about 3% while maintenance of public trees is 37% of the landscaping budget. Last year, our budget was RM4mil. Inventory is done a year ahead for maintenance of trees in public spaces.

Q3: What is the target for planting more new trees in 2024-2025? What type of trees?

A3: All local councils have a certain tree quota that have to be adhered to annually. For MBSJ, it is 80,000 trees. Types of trees that MBSJ plants nowadays are Filicium decipens; Cinnamomum iners; Michelia champaca; Lagerstromia langkawiensis; Mimusop elengi; Garcinia subelliptica; and Junipers spp.

Q4: How does MBSJ carry out maintenance of existing trees in tamans and also along road shoulders and junctions?

A4: The council maintains all parks periodically. For trees, it is inspected and recorded to be trimmed in the next phase. This year, we are doing all the trees inspected in the previous phase/year. We have done two big trimming exercise to date and will be doing another big one in July. We focus on high risk trees and moderate risk trees. For shrubs along main roads, we do it alternately over a few months in a year.

Q5: Over the past one year or so, MBSJ has been trimming and also removing huge trees along Persiaran Kewajipan, Persiaran Tujuan and also in tamans. Is there a reason for this?

A5: The khaya trees are unsuitable along the main roads. It was planted 30-40 years ago when the roads were much smaller and the roadside was much wider. The space provided for planting is currently not sufficient for big trees to thrive. The fall radius of the tree may impact on motorists, making it a high-risk area. The council plans to replace these trees gradually with better sized trees. We plan to replace all the khaya trees over the next 6 years.

In urban areas, big trees can’t grow healthily especially along the road shoulders. We will be carrying out checks on the khaya trees which had been trimmed. For every tree we take down, we will plant 10. But this is not necessarily at the same spot of the tree that’s felled. We will look for suitable space to plant new trees in land reserves and open spaces.

We have been planting more of the replacement trees in Puchong as the available spaces in the SS and USJ areas are limited. Trees were felled during the construction of the LRT. The replacement trees are planted elsewhere where there is space; and not at where the original tree was.

Q6: How and when does MBSJ landscaping department carry out inspections on existing trees to determine if they are growing well and not in danger of posing a threat to the safety of the public?

A6: The city is divided into 24 zones and each zone is managed by an officer. Each officer takes charge of each zone from complaints, park maintenance to trees well-being. The officer conduts basic inspection for the purpose of addressing the next step of action for the trees. An arborist is engaged only when the situation arises.

Q7: Does MBSJ also help trim or remove trees which are planted by house owners along the road outside the private property? Why?

A7: MBSJ does not trim or remove trees which are planted by house owners along the road outside the private property. We cannot be maintaining trees which are planted by residents. These days, we receive complaints of difficulty in removing trees which are planted behind the house. Access is too difficult as back lanes are narrow.

Q8: What role can the community or NGOs play in helping to landscape their neighbor? Request from MBSJ or organize a tree-planting program with MBSJ?

A8: Communities can form groups and make a request to MBSJ to plant trees in neighbourhoods or open spaces. They can provide the trees or request trees from the Council.

Q9: Safety vs Greening- What is MBSJ’s stand?

A9: Safety comes first. How can we enjoy the environment in fear? We will be exploring the planting of more native trees. We will emphasise on safety and aesthetic views – planting a combination of small and bigger trees. We will be planting in pockets of open spaces away from traffic. This doesn’t mean we will not beautify and landscape the road shoulders.