NParks to use computer tablets to inspect trees

Tembusu tree
The iconic Tembusu tree at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - "Health checks" for trees will soon go high-tech.

The National Parks Board (NParks) will be using computer tablets for tree inspections to enhance productivity.

"The tablets will allow officers to update the database in real-time from field sites, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of operations," Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said in a post on his blog "Housing Matters" on Sunday.

Mr Khaw said that the NParks' team of arborists keep detailed records of all the trees in their care. This comes up to a total of 1.5 million trees in Singapore's parks, and along the roads.

He said: "Every tree is tagged and has an ID number. Our tree doctors will inspect the trees for any symptoms of disease or defects at its base, trunk and canopy."

During their inspections, they may use diagnostic instruments such as the sonic tomograph and resistograph, which can detect changes within the tree, Mr Khaw said.

Another instrument, used to check the trees' roots, is the "air spade" - it produces a stream of compressed air to remove soil without damaging the roots.

Air spades are also be used to loosen the soil around trees to rejuvenate them, he added. "Strong, healthy trees keep our City in a Garden safe for our people. We have our tree doctors to thank," he wrote.