Woodland managers have a responsibility for land that is accessible to the general public. Whether we are managing the woodland for conservation, recreation or amenity purposes trees may, if suffering from certain mechanical defects, represent a hazard in areas where people and property are present. It is therefore important for managers to be aware of these tree-related hazards.
Before any work is carried out a tree must first be inspected by a qualified assessor. From the assessment a judgment is made on if the tree represents a hazard, this is based on criteria such as proximity to pathways, usage of the pathway and the extent of the mechanical defects to the tree. If a tree is assessed to be a risk then this is only the first step of the management of that tree, the tree is tagged with a unique number (the little red squares you see on the trees) and all aspects of the tree are recorded. Once all this information is gathered a judgment on an individual basis is made.
There are varying types of remedial action with felling of the tree the very last. Many trees can simply be monitored on a routine basis to see if the defects worsen, this can include climbing by tree surgeons to check potential hazards higher up. If the tree requires further action the next step is surgery, this is almost always done to extend the life of the tree using techniques such as lifting, crown reduction and pollarding. Once a tree has reached the stage where surgery cannot prolong its life and it poses a real danger, the decision is made to fell the tree.
Again this is not the end in regards to the value of the tree. The tree can either be left in situ as dead wood, or the tree can be sneded to create a brash pile which is a rich habitat for wildlife, the limbs can be chipped to feed the Penrose biomass boiler, and the stem can be milled into planks to be used for bench tops and other projects that you will see around Penrose. With the extra light being allowed to pass through the canopy the ground flora has a chance to thrive and allow the next generation of trees to come forth.