Over the last few months there has been a few incidents of tree failures that have made the news headlines. This understandably raises concerns for the safety of trees to people and property.
We often get asked why won’t council let us remove the tree. People are concerned that it could hurt or kill someone or cause damage.
There has been extensive research on tree failures across the world and the outcomes are that trees in general pose a low level of risk to life and property. There has been very few incidents of fatalities or serious injuries from tree failures. There are daily activities that we do such as crossing the road or driving a car that carry a far greater degree of risk to life.
The following statistics may be of interest to. (Independent Inquiry into Management of Trees on Public Land (2010). It can be seen that it is very low risk of fatality or serious injury associated with tree failures.
- Fatality rate of 1:5,200,000 per year from tree failure
- Fatality rate of 1:13,730 per year motor vehicle fatality
- Serious Injury rate of 1:1,450 per year from motor vehicle accident
Of course one could argue that we can control the risk by removing the tree, but would anybody go to a park and enjoy a picnic without any trees to sit under on those hot does. Aside from the obvious benefits such as shade, habitat for wildlife and environmental benefits that trees provide, trees also have more complex benefits to the urban environment that include reduce levels of stress, lower crime rates and general better health where trees are present in the environment that people live in.
Tree failures are more prolific during periods of heavy wind and rain when the trees structure gets placed under extreme loads. During these periods our outdoor area such as parks and playgrounds are not used to the same extent than during normal weather conditions. For reasons such as this the level of risk to life from tree failure is low. The winter months are typically more windy and as a result there are more tree failures during this time.
The majority of tree failures that we attend could have been prevented if the problem had been diagnosed and the necessary steps taken to remove or prune the tree to reduce the likelihood of failure. The best thing that people can do is to have their trees assessed by a qualified arborist to ensure they are in good condition. This will significantly reduce the likelihood of unexpected tree failures.