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Ancient trees, risk, and public safety

Considering how to manage ancient trees in the context of risk and public safety draws so many of the threads of arboriculture into one point.

Bio-mechanics, visual assessment, physiology, soil and roots, public access, historic importance, place making, biodiversity, climate change, heritage, landscape, risk management, cultural connection, legal duties, arboricultural management options…..

Every one of these are a #hashtag in their own right, and I am sure that you can think of many more.

Anyone who is managing ancient trees over several years will tell you that it is increasingly difficult to balance the interventions intended to prevent structural collapse (which can be catastrophic for the tree) with the risk that the intervention will cause the decline of the tree (also catastrophic).

Add the layers of duties that most managers of historic landscapes where veteran trees are most commonly found (nature conservation, funding, heritage, public access, public safety, etc.) and you will appreciate the weight of these duties and the complexity of considerations that they have to deal with.

But on the other hand, they get to spend a lot of time with veteran trees which are some of the most interesting (and baffling) organisms on the planet and are great teachers.

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