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How To Identify Hazardous Trees

Posted on: October 23,2014

While one cannot deny the numerous benefits of green plants and big shady trees, timely tree assessment is also important to recognise the related hazards and take immediate measures. Falling limbs and broken trees are a perpetual risk to life and property. Prevention is possible only through quick identification and prompt steps to deal with the issue. Know that all weakened trees give some indication about their state. Ultimately, it’s on us to recognise this and do the needful.

Hazardous Trees

So what’s a hazardous tree?

A hazardous tree is the one, which due to the positioning has the potential to fall on power lines, vehicles, people, houses, or any other structure causing damage, accidents, or loss of life. Corrective treatments and removal will depend upon the degree of hazard involved. Another important factor that determines the possible management is the tree age as well as the environment of its existence.

What should you inspect?

In order to identify a hazardous tree inspect its various parts such as,

 

a)  Crown: Form and vigor of the Crown are crucial factors indicating the general tree health. Lopsidedness, dieback, and V-shaped forks reflect weakness. Fungi, insects, and opportunistic pests invade trees leading to dieback. Timely identification can help reverse the situation; otherwise, removal remains the only option. Trees that have leaned 15° from their vertical after growing straight are ripe for removal. This may happen due to root damage or strong wind. 

b)  Roots: Health and integrity of roots determine the overall tree vitality and its stability. Damage roots naturally undermine this and can turn it into a hazard. Clues to this are available over-ground in the form of off colour, dwarfed leaves, stunted growth, and thin crown. Also, presence of resin soaked, discoloured wood at root collar or root-rot fungi fruiting bodies near or at tree base are at the identification points of root damage. These necessitate immediate intervention as it points towards a hazardous tree. 

c)  Trunk: Presence of numerous productive structures of fungi on the trunk is surely a sign of decay as is old, large wounds, dead stubs of branches, seams, cracks, and butt swell. Cankers and wounds help identify hazardous trees. Cankers are aggressive and perennial tree diseases. As the trunk weakens, it becomes prone to break at canker/wound. Vertical seams/cracks signify internal defects. It is important to note that hollow trees do not necessarily represent a hazard.

After identification of possible hazards it is important to start taking preventive measures and treatments whenever possible followed by removals or re-plantation.