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What Is Tree Risk Assessment?

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Any tree in your backyard, no matter how large or small, becomes part of your view, and probably a cherished part too. Of course, the larger a tree is, the more it dominates your view. Although you might not have any intention to get rid of any large, older trees in your backyard, there can be some uncertainty about the safety of a particularly large tree that appears to have already reached a considerable age. It's possible to have any potential risk professionally assessed, allowing you to make an informed decision about the tree's future.

The Need for Professional Assessment

Although having a tree assessed for risk might seem excessive, it's a task that a qualified arborist is familiar with. Most homeowners may only consider the need for a tree risk assessment if the tree is demonstrating behaviour that could be interpreted as risky, such as yellowing foliage (indicating illness) or a noticeable tilt (indicating a destabilisation of its root structure). These factors, coupled with the tree's size and age mean caution is wise.

The Process

The risk assessment process is thorough, though not complicated. The arborist will perform a visual inspection of the tree and any fallen branches. A small branch will often be removed to check for parasites and to look inside the branch to ensure that its phloem is healthy. A soil sample might also be taken. Additionally, you may be asked about your own activities in relation to the tree. Do any family members play in or around the tree? Do you ever set up outdoor furniture or similar near the tree? Are any vehicles ever parked under the tree? This information is collated to provide a risk assessment report.

The Findings

Depending on the final report, various aspects of the tree will be assigned a risk value (low, moderate, high, or extreme). If the tree is found to be perfectly healthy and structurally sound, it's likely that all applicable risk values will be low. These can increase depending on the tree's health and human interaction with the tree. You can be advised on the best practice for restoring the tree's health if this is feasible. Risk values of high or extreme are bad news and can mean that the tree poses a danger to persons and structures in the area. In this instance, immediate tree removal can be your only course of action. 

Given the potentially destructive force of a large tree, a professional tree risk assessment is very much a case of being safe (and not sorry). Yes, it will be disappointing if tree removal is the official recommendation, but this is far less disappointing than any damage or injury that the tree may cause if it's allowed to stay in your backyard.

If you think you need tree removal, talk to a tree service in your area.