Tree Risk Assessments

Treetec provides a range of services and arborist reports focused on minimising risk for the managers of tree populations.

We provide tree risk assessments and reports that ensure the manager of a tree population is fulfilling thier duty of care in relation to site safety. The reports are by qualified consulting arborists and include tree specifics, and recommendations, that are cognisant of the type of hazards and the degree of risk the hazard presents. Budget constraints are also taken into consideration.

Treetec also provides risk assessment Training.

  • School ground inspections
  • Landlords and property managers
  • Parks and gardens

Arborist tree reports – risk

If you own or manage an open space with trees you have a legal obligation, a ‘duty of care’, to consider and manage the risks of that site, be it a school, scout camp, paintball operation or arboretum. The accepted management practice is to engage a consulting arborist on a regular basis to assess the tree hazards then use tree contractors to undertake the work. How often this is done is not set. There was a legal judgment against a school principal after a tragedy, and that judgement suggested 6 monthly inspections would have been appropriate however this was in a tropical area where growth and decay is vigorous, for Melbourne and Victoria more generally, it is fairly standard to inspect trees annually, every two years is probably leaving it too long.

Tree hazards

There are a range of potential tree related hazards, many of the obvious ones can be picked up by ground staff; this includes things like deadwood within the canopy, hangers (broken limbs), dead trees and trees that are actively failing and moving the soil around the base. One does not need a fully qualified arborist to identify these basic hazards. There are a lot of other potential problems that may go unnoticed and therefore a regular formal arboricultural inspection is required.

If a serious hazard is observed the danger area should be made a no-go zone until a contractor can make the site safe. The degree of risk varies and there needs to be some common sense used in relation to the size of deadwood or hangers and the height of the tree, a few dead twigs is clearly not going to seriously injure someone.

It’s also important to consider the amount of traffic that passes under a hazardous tree and the weather. A tree with nobody under it is safe. A tree that is loose in the ground with high wind and rain and lots of school children in the fall zone is not safe.

There are many other potential tree hazards including decay, hollows, allergens and faults, they can be difficult to spot. These are the types of issues we look to identify during an arboricultural hazard assessment, Treetec uses an internationally recognised system called – VTA (Visual Tree Assessment).

Tree population risk assessments

For managers of public spaces such as parks, cemeteries and schools the task of managing tree related risk can be expensive and time consuming. Treetec can map and assess all trees then provide concise workable solutions to help budget for, and manage that risk.

The consulting arborist will provide recommendations for individual trees or groups, these recommendations will consider the likelihood of a tree failing and the probability of that failure impacting a target (person or asset).

Tree risk assessment reports will also provide broader information where required on establishing or maintaining treed environments, tree health and tree risk management.

Treetec does not provide day-to-day tree contracting services thereby avoiding a conflict of interest and ensuring the consulting arborist will provide objective findings with a focus on maintaining amenity whilst minimising risk.

Managing tree related risk on a budget

The only way to eliminate tree related risk is to remove all the trees or remove all the targets (people and property). Our reports provide recommendations aimed at minimising risk whilst retaining tree related amenity.

Sometimes it’s possible to reduce a tree rather than completely remove it, there are a range of pruning options that may facilitate the retention of a tree whilst greatly reducing the risk such as crown lifting or tip pruning / load reduction. There are also other options such as exclusion zones, cabling and nets.

There will always be some risk, the key is determining what is an acceptable level.

The best way to avoid tree related risk is by having a vegetation plan that covers the selection, planting, care and removal of trees. If these issues are given due consideration trees will be healther with less structural issues and will be cheaper to maintain.

How often should trees be inspected

For Victoria we recommend each year by a suitably qualified arborist, and as an ongoing process by internal staff such as groundskeepers. For tropical areas every six to eight months.

It’s also important to keep a documented record of tree related risk reduction work such as inspections and pruning, this record keeping is a legal requirement under the various OHS Acts.

Melbourne Arborist