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How to know tree is dead. With the amount of people and property in the urban environment, it’s often not safe to neglect a tree’s health.
In a town or city, the likelihood of a tree or a part of tree hitting someone or something if it fell can be quite high.
This will make tree management necessary.
This following Blog post was inspired by an article in the Daily Herald entitled “Old trees will tell you when their time is up”.
The article interviewed several Arborists based in the Eastern States of the USA.
They talk in reference to some prominent old trees in their area including some that are at the White House and Arlington National Cemetery.
From the article: “The decision to take down or at least dismember an old tree is neither easy nor always objective.
However professional arborists are guided by a risk assessment protocol that brings a rationality to the process.
The evaluation assesses the tree’s vigour, the thickness of its sapwood shell, its disease stresses, the state of the roots and the like.
Arborists also consider its location and the proximity to what they call “targets” – property and people.”
In the urban environment many of us are living near each other with trees dotted in between.
It is common for large amounts of people or property to be in fall distance of a large tree in this situation.
This can lead to concern as the potential for harm can appear high, however, as the article states:
“There is a prevailing mentality among many homeowners that big old trees are inherently threatening and should be removed.
This is sort of like refusing to get on a plane because it can crash.”
Often this mentality can lead to extreme measures being taken on healthy trees creating more problems than they solve.
In the article they refer to “Hat-racking” which basically means large trees being severely cut back to stubs.
The resultant regrowth and decay that will ensue from this process can easily create a tree that is far more hazardous than the original specimen.
So as a responsible tree owner, what can you do if you have concerns about your tree?
One of the best options is to have your tree assessed by a suitably qualified Arborist or Arboricultural consultant.
This can be cheaper than having the tree worked on and can also eliminate the situation of bias.
When you invite a contractor to assess your tree and they suggest remedial action to generate work.
It is important that the person you ask to assess your tree knows what they are doing so ask to see qualifications or credentials.
International accreditation to a governing body is often a good sign.
You could also ask to see examples of past reports or assessments that they have carried out.
Older trees often have several defects.
Some of these can be effectively managed to reduce the risk they pose to acceptable levels.
It is not as simple as saying “this tree has a problem, it needs to be cut down.”
The extent of the defect needs to be assessed, along with the position of the defect in the tree, considering other factors such as species and location.
As the article mentions:
“An ancient tree with problems can be managed: A decayed limb might be removed, a fungal disease addressed, soil compaction mitigated.
Competent cabling is an effective way to prevent an old tree from breaking apart.
At least for several additional decades, but it needs to be adjusted periodically as the tree grows.”
The life of an old tree can often be determined by how attached the owner becomes to it and their own individual comfort zone for risk.
It is important for owners of old trees to know that there are other options, rather than simply removal, so they can make an informed decision.
The article had this final piece of advice:
“If I had several old and precious trees on my property, I would develop a long-term connection with an arborist I trusted for their preventive care.
Old trees decline and die (middle-aged ones, too), and sometimes you must accept that a friend’s time has come.
The loss of a beloved tree can provide its own silver lining: the opportunity to put in sun-loving perennials, shrubs or a new tree.”
For anyone wishing to read the full article it can be found here:
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Rossy and the Team.
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