After the Storm ….. is there hope? ….. Stop before you ‘lop’!
It’s cyclone and storm season and don’t we know it! Sending out commiserations to all our colleagues and those affected by Cyclone Debbie.
One of the more immediate and obvious major obstacles to the cleanup ahead is the need to deal with damaged trees – standing, broken and fallen.
Neighbourhoods may look like there’s no hope for the future but trees are renowned for their resilience! Not all trees are beyond repair or regeneration but it is vital that they are cared for properly!
When seeking help do make sure you seek the help of a qualified Arborist! Don’t be tempted to accept the help of someone knocking on your door offering to Top and Lop your trees and clean up every last leaf left within the canopy of your tree! To see more about what questions you should ask those offering to assist you please see below:
Someone qualified to carry out your tree work should be able to provide you with:
- Proof of insurances
- Proof of their experience and qualifications including AQF Level III
- Assurance that they know and understand how to prune to the collar and all other guidelines within Australian Standard 4373:2007-Pruning of amenity trees
- They are not going to use climbing spikes if your tree is to be retained
Further helpful facts:
- If the damage is high in the tree, or large branches are involved. It’s a job for a professional climbing arborist
- Check the yellow pages, or use your favourite search engine to locate a “Tree Surgeon” or “Arborist” – look for companies employing Qualified Arborists (Those carrying out any pruning should hold Minimum AQF Level 3 in Arboriculture).
- Say NO to the use of spikes for climbing your tree!
- Don’t accept offers to ‘lop’ your tree right back! Untrained or uninformed tree “loppers” may tell you they must cut back all the branches to “shape” the tree, or they may suggest that shorter trees will be less likely to fail in future wind storms.
- ‘Topped or lopped’ trees are more likely to future failure than un-topped tree!
- Ask the Arborist you employ if they are familiar with Australian Standard AS4373 (2007) Pruning of Amenity Trees . Will they be pruning to the branch collar?
- Regardless of the size or age, a Qualified Arborist can advise on the likelihood of your trees recovery – young trees are often able to recover and develop new structure.
- Remember that the decisions you make now may have long term consequences for your trees.
NB: You may need your local Council’s approval before you carry outs significant prune or remove any protected tree. Your qualified Arborist will be able to advise you on your local Council Vegetation Laws. In most emergency circumstances, an AQF Level V qualified Arborist will be able to provide the necessary report and authorise the emergency removal of a tree in imminent danger of failing and causing damage to persons or property.
Some trees that may have failed or suffered major damage as they weathered extreme storm forces as they protected surrounding infrastructure.
Concerned? Love your trees? If you are concerned about the safety of trees that are still standing, it is worthwhile considering the fact that they have weathered many other storms in the past. However, if you value your trees consider engaging an Arborist to check their health and stability could save you significant money and save your tree for you to enjoy for many years to come.
How to select a Qualified Arborist
- AVOID DOOR KNOCKERS: after storms, many people call to offer their services – they may even call themselves ‘arborists’ or tree ‘loppers’ and although they may have a chainsaw they have no training. Sadly their best skills are removing money from the pockets of unsuspecting consumers and leaving a mutilated tree unlikely to survive their call. Unskilled workers may do more harm than good.
- Look in the Yellow Pages or similar reputable resource under ‘Consulting Arboriculturalist’, ‘Tree Surgery’ or ‘Arboriculturist’. Seek the advice of reputable websites such as The Queensland Arboricultural Association (QAA) to see listings for Qualified Members in your area.
- Ask for Certificates of Insurance: Public Liability (Minimum $10,000,000) and Workers Compensation as well as arboricultural training credentials and work experience.
- A qualified Consulting Arborist can advise you on the extent of necessity of work prior to commencement. Ascertaining the safety and/or extent of damage to your tree before engaging the tree service Arborists could save you considerable expense and further unnecessary damage to your tree – likewise these Arborists should be able to present evidence of their arboricultural qualifications, experience and Professional Indemnity insurance.
Other questions to ask:
- Is there evidence of ground heave around the base of the tree?
- Other than the obvious damage, is the tree generally healthy?
- Are major limbs or the main leader broken?
- Is at least half of the tree undamaged?
- How large are the wounds?
- Is the tree appropriate for its location?
Before the next Storm…..how to prepare and protect your valuable green asset
Trees add value to your property and liveability to your house – it’s 5-10oC cooler under a tree!! Just as you need to paint your house and maintain the gutters while looking after your generally most valuable asset, as part of your Housekeeping, your trees need attention on regular basis too – Why? – because trees contribute monetary value to your (typically) the most valuable asset you own. Your trees need maintenance too!
Are your trees inspected regularly? Keep an eye on things. Large trees should be assessed by someone qualified in the care of trees! How often? – As a guide, for well cared for larger trees, inspection may only be necessary every two years or thereabouts- sooner if you notice issues of concern to you though – Address problems early on at a time that suits you – don’t wait until an emergency when everyone else needs help too! A qualified and experienced arborist can undertake inspections efficiently and economically – they can help you to better understand your tree which you see and enjoy each day. With a little help and their advice you will be able to ask for their assistance should issues concerning you arise.
Some issues to look for – watch for potential Hazards – Investigate the condition of your trees. You or a qualified arborist should look for damage such as cracks in the trunk or major limbs; hollow, aged, and decayed trees; hanging branches; improperly formed branches; one-sided or significantly leaning trees and branches that may come into contact with a house.
Know your tree species – A qualified arborist can evaluate your trees for hardiness, resilience and suitability for your property. Some species are more prone to storm damage. Being aware of which trees may succumb to harsh weather conditions, will help you decide if you want to replace a tree because it is a weed species, large growing or it is a species prone to sudden failure.
Why is it important not to ‘Top or Lop’ trees – Untrained individuals who knock on doors urging residents to have their trees cut back (or “lopped”) or offering to remove all branches in the mistaken belief that it will help avoid breakage in future storms can actually cause so much damage that your tree may die! Or worse become far more dangerous as a result of their handiwork! ‘Lopping and Topping’ is not only extremely harmful and unhealthy for your trees but is likely to lead to profuse regrowth which then becomes dangerous in storm weather due to its poor attachment to the tree stem! A professional arborist will explain why severe removal of leaf and branch structure is called “topping and lopping”. That is, the excessive removal of leaves and main branches cut to stubs effectively removes the lungs of a tree and diminishes its ability to photosynthesise which is the process used by trees to replenish their stores of sugars that sustain the life of a healthy tree! Weakly attached branches are far more likely to shear free of the tree stem in wild weather, breaking free and becoming airborne missiles when a storm strikes.
In short – a ‘lopped or topped’ tree suffering major storm damage is far more likely to die than repair itself.
Insurance – Published research has proven that trees increase property values by up to 20%. It is wise to check to see if your homeowners insurance cover includes damage to your landscape as a result of unnatural causes (“Acts of God”). Consider including the total value of your trees when listing your assets for coverage. A certified arborist can inspect your trees and provide an estimated value report for your insurance provider.
Remember, trees are dynamic living things which require proper care. Hiring an AQF qualified arborist to can assist you with pre-storm inspections and post-storm restoration can help you to avoid the unnecessary loss of your trees.
The Queensland Arboricultural Association (QAA) would like to acknowledge and thank Energex for their valued input into this brochure. Please remember to seek their advice if there is entanglement of powerlines and your tree.
NEVER ATTEMPT TO CARRY OUT TREE WORK OR REMOVAL OF DEBRIS WITHIN THE SURROUNDS OF LIVE OR FALLEN POWERLINES!! To report a dangerous situation such as wires down, please ring Energex Hotline on 13 19 62 or emergency services on 0 0 0
The Queensland Arboricultural Association (QAA), is a not for profit organisation supporting tree care and the tree care industry throughout Queensland and northern NSW. Dedicated to the ideal of a sustainable urban forest and maintaining and promoting knowledge of caring for trees – an asset for future generations to enjoy – the health and safety of your trees can be enhanced by your diligent care.