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treeseer

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    A humble arborist
  1. Standard Flare and Trunk Care

    The previous article (Standard Tree Inspection) concluded with root collar examination (RCX). This time we will refer to the list of tree features and conditions in the flare and trunk, as noted in 83.3 of the ANSI A300 Tree Care Standard, to clarify what they entail. Examples from the field will illustrate the seamless transition from diagnosis to care of the trunk and flare. Principles borrowed from a British system will be italicised. Not to spoil your day, but here’s a spoiler alert: cleaning is a part of both processes. “Specifying the method, area, depth, tools, and limitations of inspections” is first. You can call it the trunk flare, or the root flare, but Part 8 avoids adjective confusion by defining the flare as “where the trunk broadens to form roots” (the “root collar” is where the buttress roots divide, “between the flare and the roots”). Here we will use manual methods and tools available to anyone, from a shovel to a chisel. We’ll go as deep as practical, and we’re always limited by time, money, a lack of research, and other factors. “Avoiding damage to living tissue, bark or soil” means we should not break the tree’s Compartmentalisation of Damage in Trees (CODIT) barriers, unless As an example, after a 3m-diameter tree was tomographed, an experienced arborist used a microdrill in only three locations – just enough to confirm the 24-point tomogram. In contrast, beginning assessors might drill a 3mm hole through every buttress root of every big tree they see, just to get numbers that have no bearing on the stability of trees. This of course would cause a great deal of wounding to that vital area, like a steel stake driven into the heart of the tree. Oozing, infected holes cry out for relief from excessive drilling. Wounds And The Tree’s Response To Wounds How can we give relief to an infected or damaged area? The 6X Protocol was designed with this question in mind. • EXpose the affected area: clear away obstructions like grass and other weeds, mulch, or soil • EXcavate loose decayed tissue: clean away any dead or foreign matter. If tissue is living but infected, give the tree the benefit of the doubt. Drying alone can be enough to speed CODIT • EXcise respecting the barriers: cut into living tissue only if you are certain it is justified. If the pathogen is aggressive and the tree defenceless, or if collecting samples for laboratory analysis, then living tissue is cut away • EXamine strength and weakness, like columns and active infections • EXtract information by recording images and measurements to reach a definite diagnosis and mitigation options. According to the ZTV, “Before contracts begin, a definite diagnosis” • EXhaustive specifications are written and illustrated to implement mitigation options and carry out the work. These include trunk drenching with minerals like phosphorous acid, growth regulators such as Paclobutrazol, and prochloraz, which is approved for management of Armillaria in the UK Prochloraz is “a mixture comprising a combination of a phenyl amide fungicide; an imidazole fungicide; and a phthalimide containing fungicide, wherein the composition has a synergistically enhanced activity” (patent application). Other compounds such as salicylic acid also work, which is why willow bark is spread under apple trees with scab. Conditions in the crown that may reflect root conditions guides the eye from branches downward, through the trunk and flare. Stem tissue connecting the crown and the roots are referred to as “functional vertical segments”, “columns” and “discrete xylem channels” by veteran tree experts. In older senescing trees as other “sections of the tree collapse and decay, these may take the form of young stems”. This could be considered a form of self-propagation, where the tree divides, as a lily or an iris might. “Aerial roots… arising from the area of historic wound wood… act as extra support, as well as exploiting the decayed wood in the centre of the stem to supply nutrients to the crown. Stem hollowing that gradually recycles the non-functional woody tissue while retaining a structurally robust cylindrical bole” are favourable features to note during a tree inspection. Observations of veteran trees that appear to have successfully survived without recent intervention may give some idea of the tree’s ‘strategies’… different species seem to demonstrate different survival strategies with varying degrees of success where the following conditions apply: • A relatively undisrupted rhizosphere • Little competition for light allowing the crown to retrenchment naturally reducing the sail area and leverage on weakening attachments • A tendency to respond with epicormic growth around areas of the base, stem and crown Tree association with pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms (e.g. mycorrhizae); the Ancient Tree Forum has developed a system for checking the soil away from the trunk for “good guy” fungi, and conserving that associate. Girdling… by foreign objects, and the tree’s response; when bark is compacted, the tree cannot rebuild those columns until the compacted bark is traced. Chisels work to chip off the dead bark and retain the living phloem, which will promptly expand after it is released from the girdling bark. Due to limited space, we will have to save “Tree association with beneficial and harmful insects” and “Graft unions in grafted trees” for another time. In conclusion, consider the experience of Jeremy Barrell, when it comes to relying on our inspections and care, “… lawyers and the courts are attracted to stepwise analyses that are easy to understand, and there may be some merit in carefully considering this type of approach. …if it is accepted that compartmentalising the tree risk assessment process will assist the courts in applying the law, then arborists who have considered what the courts are looking for and are able to explain what they did in those terms will obviously be well-placed to refute allegations of negligence.” It’s a “sleep-tight protocol.” If a systematic and thorough inspection and standard care are performed, arborists can feel very good about improving trees that seem to be in a bad way. References Barrel, Jeremy: www.barrelltreecare. co.uk/pdfs/BTC86-AANewsComplete-191013.pdf Fay, Neville: www.treeworks.co.uk/ downloads/Notes_on_Arboricultural_ Techniques_for_VT_management.pdf Percival, Glynn: Systemic Induced Resistance (SIR) presentation at ISA 2015 conference.
  2. Standard Flare and Trunk Care

    The previous article (Standard Tree Inspection) concluded with root collar examination (RCX). This time we will refer to the list of tree features and conditions in the flare and trunk, as noted in 83.3 of the ANSI A300 Tree Care Standard, to clarify what they entail. Examples from the field will illustrate the seamless transition from diagnosis to care of the trunk and flare. Principles borrowed from a British system will be italicised. Not to spoil your day, but here’s a spoiler alert: cleaning is a part of both processes. “Specifying the method, area, depth, tools, and limitations of inspections” is first. You can call it the trunk flare, or the root flare, but Part 8 avoids adjective confusion by defining the flare as “where the trunk broadens to form roots” (the “root collar” is where the buttress roots divide, “between the flare and the roots”). Here we will use manual methods and tools available to anyone, from a shovel to a chisel. We’ll go as deep as practical, and we’re always limited by time, money, a lack of research, and other factors. “Avoiding damage to living tissue, bark or soil” means we should not break the tree’s Compartmentalisation of Damage in Trees (CODIT) barriers, unless #jscode# As an example, after a 3m-diameter tree was tomographed, an experienced arborist used a microdrill in only three locations – just enough to confirm the 24-point tomogram. In contrast, beginning assessors might drill a 3mm hole through every buttress root of every big tree they see, just to get numbers that have no bearing on the stability of trees. This of course would cause a great deal of wounding to that vital area, like a steel stake driven into the heart of the tree. Oozing, infected holes cry out for relief from excessive drilling. Wounds And The Tree’s Response To Wounds How can we give relief to an infected or damaged area? The 6X Protocol was designed with this question in mind. • EXpose the affected area: clear away obstructions like grass and other weeds, mulch, or soil • EXcavate loose decayed tissue: clean away any dead or foreign matter. If tissue is living but infected, give the tree the benefit of the doubt. Drying alone can be enough to speed CODIT • EXcise respecting the barriers: cut into living tissue only if you are certain it is justified. If the pathogen is aggressive and the tree defenceless, or if collecting samples for laboratory analysis, then living tissue is cut away • EXamine strength and weakness, like columns and active infections • EXtract information by recording images and measurements to reach a definite diagnosis and mitigation options. According to the ZTV, “Before contracts begin, a definite diagnosis” • EXhaustive specifications are written and illustrated to implement mitigation options and carry out the work. These include trunk drenching with minerals like phosphorous acid, growth regulators such as Paclobutrazol, and prochloraz, which is approved for management of Armillaria in the UK Prochloraz is “a mixture comprising a combination of a phenyl amide fungicide; an imidazole fungicide; and a phthalimide containing fungicide, wherein the composition has a synergistically enhanced activity” (patent application). Other compounds such as salicylic acid also work, which is why willow bark is spread under apple trees with scab. Conditions in the crown that may reflect root conditions guides the eye from branches downward, through the trunk and flare. Stem tissue connecting the crown and the roots are referred to as “functional vertical segments”, “columns” and “discrete xylem channels” by veteran tree experts. In older senescing trees as other “sections of the tree collapse and decay, these may take the form of young stems”. This could be considered a form of self-propagation, where the tree divides, as a lily or an iris might. “Aerial roots… arising from the area of historic wound wood… act as extra support, as well as exploiting the decayed wood in the centre of the stem to supply nutrients to the crown. Stem hollowing that gradually recycles the non-functional woody tissue while retaining a structurally robust cylindrical bole” are favourable features to note during a tree inspection. Observations of veteran trees that appear to have successfully survived without recent intervention may give some idea of the tree’s ‘strategies’… different species seem to demonstrate different survival strategies with varying degrees of success where the following conditions apply: • A relatively undisrupted rhizosphere • Little competition for light allowing the crown to retrenchment naturally reducing the sail area and leverage on weakening attachments • A tendency to respond with epicormic growth around areas of the base, stem and crown Tree association with pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms (e.g. mycorrhizae); the Ancient Tree Forum has developed a system for checking the soil away from the trunk for “good guy” fungi, and conserving that associate. Girdling… by foreign objects, and the tree’s response; when bark is compacted, the tree cannot rebuild those columns until the compacted bark is traced. Chisels work to chip off the dead bark and retain the living phloem, which will promptly expand after it is released from the girdling bark. Due to limited space, we will have to save “Tree association with beneficial and harmful insects” and “Graft unions in grafted trees” for another time. In conclusion, consider the experience of Jeremy Barrell, when it comes to relying on our inspections and care, “… lawyers and the courts are attracted to stepwise analyses that are easy to understand, and there may be some merit in carefully considering this type of approach. …if it is accepted that compartmentalising the tree risk assessment process will assist the courts in applying the law, then arborists who have considered what the courts are looking for and are able to explain what they did in those terms will obviously be well-placed to refute allegations of negligence.” It’s a “sleep-tight protocol.” If a systematic and thorough inspection and standard care are performed, arborists can feel very good about improving trees that seem to be in a bad way. References Barrel, Jeremy: www.barrelltreecare. co.uk/pdfs/BTC86-AANewsComplete-191013.pdf Fay, Neville: www.treeworks.co.uk/ downloads/Notes_on_Arboricultural_ Techniques_for_VT_management.pdf Percival, Glynn: Systemic Induced Resistance (SIR) presentation at ISA 2015 conference. View full article
  3. Valuing and Managing Veteran Trees

    Trees that have stood the test of time and show some battle scars, dead branches, and other signs of aging are often referred to as veterans. On a once-beautiful tree, these signs might suggest a ‘mortality spiral’ to tree owners, and to arborists. ‘Death with dignity’ may seem simpler than dealing with maintenance and liability concerns, but with proper standards to follow, veteran tree care methods are straightforward and defendable. The British have been at this for a long time. Their tree care standard describes a natural process of pruning veteran trees: “Retrenchment pruning is a phased form of crown reduction, which is intended to emulate the natural process whereby the crown of a declining tree retains its overall biomechanical integrity by becoming smaller through the progressive shedding of small branches and the development of the lower crown (retrenchment). This natural loss of branches of poor vitality improves the ratio between dynamic (biologically active) and static (inactive) mass, thus helping the tree as a whole to retain good physiological function...The pruning should be implemented by shortening heavy, long or weakened branches throughout the crown, while retaining as much leaf area as possible and encouraging the development of new secondary branches from epicormic shoots or from dormant or adventitious buds.” Tree care training, oversensitised by the scourge of lopping trees, traditionally teach the myth that it is biologically better to remove a branch than to reduce it. But wounds close at any growth point, where the same types of tissue are seen, if the cuts are small enough. UK and German standards advise limiting wound size to no more than four inches in diameter. ‘Death with dignity’ may seem simpler than dealing with maintenance and liability concerns, but with proper standards to follow, veteran tree care methods are straightforward and defendable. The 2012 ISA Best Management Practices for Tree Risk Assessment echoes the UK guidance on retrenchment: “Tree risk assessors should resist the ultimate security of risk elimination based on tree removal and consider possibilities for retaining trees when practicable... Over-mature trees in natural settings may reconfigure as they age and deteriorate, a process sometimes called ‘natural retrenchment’. They may continue to grow trunk diameter while branches die and fail – reducing overall height of the tree and increasing stability. Where tree risk is a concern, tree risk assessors can imitate this process by recommending crown reduction.” The leading US tree care textbooks and current research confirm this approach. “Old trees that are of low vigor and have failing branches can often be made healthy and attractive by removing the weak-growing and dying limbs in their extremities, particularly their tops.” “The objective is to make reduction cuts so that branch tips are left intact on the outer edge of a new, smaller canopy.”... Reduction pruning anticipates the natural process of “growing downward”...” A 15 per cent reduction can increase the stability of a branch or a tree by 50%. Inspecting the flare is essential before pruning can be specified. The US standard advises that the “objectives be established, the method, area, depth, and limitations of inspection, as well as the tools and equipment needed. Mulch, soil, and other materials should be removed as needed to allow for the inspection. Inspection should include the conditions in the crown that may reflect root conditions: Stem tissue connecting the crown and the roots Girdling of the buttress roots or stems by roots or other materials, and the tree’s response Tree association with beneficial and harmful insects Tree association with pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms (e.g. mycorrhizae) Wounds and the tree’s response to wounds Mechanical damage to detectable roots and response Indications of root disease and response Graft unions in grafted trees The flare is the transition zone, where the stem broadens and roots extend into the earth. The flare should always be visible, but all too often we see that it’s obscured by fill contacting the trunk. If the flare of your veteran tree is concealed, gently and gradually remove the material, and keep the trunk tissue dry. If a shovel or trowel is used, press the blade against the trunk, slide it carefully downward until resistance is met. Push the handle toward the trunk, moving the blade away from the trunk. This is a delicate operation, and encountering roots that squeeze the stem is not uncommon. You can remove any of these smaller girdling roots as needed, but larger girdling roots are best managed from experience. Root collar examination (RCX) may reveal softness, oozing, insects, or holes in that sensitive area. Clean out any dead material to diagnose and treat these conditions, then examine the soil. If probing shows that soil is hard or compacted, these areas might be treated as number four under ‘Specifications’. Fertile material removed from the flare can be spread on the outer root zone, and future management should keep the flare visible. Prescribing this work might follow a simple template. Determine what the scope of the work will be and what objective(s) are to be achieved. Then list the specific steps that will be needed in order to meet the defined objectives. As an example, below are the before and after photos of a Quercus stellata and the scope, objectives, and specifications for its retrenchment. SCOPE: Quercus stellata with extensive root loss. Six feet wide at the base; over five feet of that is hollow. OBJECTIVE: Reduce the load and the risk, with low maintenance needs. SPECIFICATIONS: Reduce downward and horizontal segments of overextended branches, clearing the branches below by two to four feet. Cuts less than three inches, to upright laterals, less than eight percent total foliage' Remove or reduce crowded branches, less than four per cent total foliage, smaller than three-inch cuts. Reduce declining leaders three to six feet. Smallest cut possible, near vigorous growth or buds. In an area between three and 20 feet from the trunk, use an air/water tool to make holes 18 inches apart, greater than two inches wide and greater than 12 inches deep. Force 50 per cent compost/50 per cent soil conditioner into the holes. Mulch with two inches of woodchips Vocational Education and Training on Veteran Trees, or ‘VETree’, started as a European network exchanging knowledge on veteran tree management. Seasoned veteran tree managers from England, Sweden, Spain, Romania, and Belgium have delivered advanced training to future trainers, who will be able to use case studies with specifications, and ‘ready-to- use’ course material adaptable to any site. Available in late 2014, this training will be supported through HistoricTreeCare.com with e-learning tools and video. Exemplary work done by Veteran Tree Group Australia is similarly shared in other regions. Landscapes are healthier and more ecologically sound with a diversity of plant species, and ages. Veteran trees can add a timeless quality to a garden, providing opportunities for biological, cultural, and historical interpretation. By sustaining these titans of ecology, and training a new generation of veterans, we can bring beauty and environmental health to our gardens for centuries to come. References BS 3998: 2010 Tree Work – Recommendations British Standards Institute Page 57 Best Management Practices on Tree Risk Assessment International Society of Arboriculture Pages 41-42 Arboriculture: The Integrated Management of Trees, Shrubs and Vines Harris, Matheny and Clark 2004, Prentice-Hall Page 365 An Illustrated Guide to Pruning 2nd ed.2002, Gilman, Edward F., Page 213 Ancient Trees Growing Downwards, Green, Ted 2009 http://www.treeworks.co.uk/downloads/Veteran_Environmental_Papers/Growing_Downwards_ancient_trees_Jan_05.pdf Page 4 Fracture Diagnosis of Trees Part 2: Statics-Integrated Methods - Statically-Integrated Assessment (SIA) The Practitioner's Method of Diagnosis Lothar Wessolly Stadt und Gruen 1995, No. 8, 570-573 Final Report: Development of Risk Criteria for Branch Failures within the Crowns of Trees Goodfellow, John 2009, BioCompliance Consulting ANSI A300 Tree Care Standards: (Part 8) Root Management 2012, Tree Care Industry Association Page 12 Ancient and other Veteran Trees: further guidance on management Lonsdale, ed. 2013, English Nature Veteran Tree Care, 2013, Roddick, Christopher, Ecological Landscaping Alliance
  4. Trees that have stood the test of time and show some battle scars, dead branches, and other signs of aging are often referred to as veterans. On a once-beautiful tree, these signs might suggest a ‘mortality spiral’ to tree owners, and to arborists. ‘Death with dignity’ may seem simpler than dealing with maintenance and liability concerns, but with proper standards to follow, veteran tree care methods are straightforward and defendable. The British have been at this for a long time. Their tree care standard describes a natural process of pruning veteran trees: “Retrenchment pruning is a phased form of crown reduction, which is intended to emulate the natural process whereby the crown of a declining tree retains its overall biomechanical integrity by becoming smaller through the progressive shedding of small branches and the development of the lower crown (retrenchment). This natural loss of branches of poor vitality improves the ratio between dynamic (biologically active) and static (inactive) mass, thus helping the tree as a whole to retain good physiological function...The pruning should be implemented by shortening heavy, long or weakened branches throughout the crown, while retaining as much leaf area as possible and encouraging the development of new secondary branches from epicormic shoots or from dormant or adventitious buds.” #jscode# Tree care training, oversensitised by the scourge of lopping trees, traditionally teach the myth that it is biologically better to remove a branch than to reduce it. But wounds close at any growth point, where the same types of tissue are seen, if the cuts are small enough. UK and German standards advise limiting wound size to no more than four inches in diameter. ‘Death with dignity’ may seem simpler than dealing with maintenance and liability concerns, but with proper standards to follow, veteran tree care methods are straightforward and defendable. The 2012 ISA Best Management Practices for Tree Risk Assessment echoes the UK guidance on retrenchment: “Tree risk assessors should resist the ultimate security of risk elimination based on tree removal and consider possibilities for retaining trees when practicable... Over-mature trees in natural settings may reconfigure as they age and deteriorate, a process sometimes called ‘natural retrenchment’. They may continue to grow trunk diameter while branches die and fail – reducing overall height of the tree and increasing stability. Where tree risk is a concern, tree risk assessors can imitate this process by recommending crown reduction.” The leading US tree care textbooks and current research confirm this approach. “Old trees that are of low vigor and have failing branches can often be made healthy and attractive by removing the weak-growing and dying limbs in their extremities, particularly their tops.” “The objective is to make reduction cuts so that branch tips are left intact on the outer edge of a new, smaller canopy.”... Reduction pruning anticipates the natural process of “growing downward”...” A 15 per cent reduction can increase the stability of a branch or a tree by 50%. Inspecting the flare is essential before pruning can be specified. The US standard advises that the “objectives be established, the method, area, depth, and limitations of inspection, as well as the tools and equipment needed. Mulch, soil, and other materials should be removed as needed to allow for the inspection. Inspection should include the conditions in the crown that may reflect root conditions: Stem tissue connecting the crown and the roots Girdling of the buttress roots or stems by roots or other materials, and the tree’s response Tree association with beneficial and harmful insects Tree association with pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms (e.g. mycorrhizae) Wounds and the tree’s response to wounds Mechanical damage to detectable roots and response Indications of root disease and response Graft unions in grafted trees The flare is the transition zone, where the stem broadens and roots extend into the earth. The flare should always be visible, but all too often we see that it’s obscured by fill contacting the trunk. If the flare of your veteran tree is concealed, gently and gradually remove the material, and keep the trunk tissue dry. If a shovel or trowel is used, press the blade against the trunk, slide it carefully downward until resistance is met. Push the handle toward the trunk, moving the blade away from the trunk. This is a delicate operation, and encountering roots that squeeze the stem is not uncommon. You can remove any of these smaller girdling roots as needed, but larger girdling roots are best managed from experience. Root collar examination (RCX) may reveal softness, oozing, insects, or holes in that sensitive area. Clean out any dead material to diagnose and treat these conditions, then examine the soil. If probing shows that soil is hard or compacted, these areas might be treated as number four under ‘Specifications’. Fertile material removed from the flare can be spread on the outer root zone, and future management should keep the flare visible. Prescribing this work might follow a simple template. Determine what the scope of the work will be and what objective(s) are to be achieved. Then list the specific steps that will be needed in order to meet the defined objectives. As an example, below are the before and after photos of a Quercus stellata and the scope, objectives, and specifications for its retrenchment. SCOPE: Quercus stellata with extensive root loss. Six feet wide at the base; over five feet of that is hollow. OBJECTIVE: Reduce the load and the risk, with low maintenance needs. SPECIFICATIONS: Reduce downward and horizontal segments of overextended branches, clearing the branches below by two to four feet. Cuts less than three inches, to upright laterals, less than eight percent total foliage' Remove or reduce crowded branches, less than four per cent total foliage, smaller than three-inch cuts. Reduce declining leaders three to six feet. Smallest cut possible, near vigorous growth or buds. In an area between three and 20 feet from the trunk, use an air/water tool to make holes 18 inches apart, greater than two inches wide and greater than 12 inches deep. Force 50 per cent compost/50 per cent soil conditioner into the holes. Mulch with two inches of woodchips Vocational Education and Training on Veteran Trees, or ‘VETree’, started as a European network exchanging knowledge on veteran tree management. Seasoned veteran tree managers from England, Sweden, Spain, Romania, and Belgium have delivered advanced training to future trainers, who will be able to use case studies with specifications, and ‘ready-to- use’ course material adaptable to any site. Available in late 2014, this training will be supported through HistoricTreeCare.com with e-learning tools and video. Exemplary work done by Veteran Tree Group Australia is similarly shared in other regions. Landscapes are healthier and more ecologically sound with a diversity of plant species, and ages. Veteran trees can add a timeless quality to a garden, providing opportunities for biological, cultural, and historical interpretation. By sustaining these titans of ecology, and training a new generation of veterans, we can bring beauty and environmental health to our gardens for centuries to come. References BS 3998: 2010 Tree Work – Recommendations British Standards Institute Page 57 Best Management Practices on Tree Risk Assessment International Society of Arboriculture Pages 41-42 Arboriculture: The Integrated Management of Trees, Shrubs and Vines Harris, Matheny and Clark 2004, Prentice-Hall Page 365 An Illustrated Guide to Pruning 2nd ed.2002, Gilman, Edward F., Page 213 Ancient Trees Growing Downwards, Green, Ted 2009 http://www.treeworks.co.uk/downloads/Veteran_Environmental_Papers/Growing_Downwards_ancient_trees_Jan_05.pdf Page 4 Fracture Diagnosis of Trees Part 2: Statics-Integrated Methods - Statically-Integrated Assessment (SIA) The Practitioner's Method of Diagnosis Lothar Wessolly Stadt und Gruen 1995, No. 8, 570-573 Final Report: Development of Risk Criteria for Branch Failures within the Crowns of Trees Goodfellow, John 2009, BioCompliance Consulting ANSI A300 Tree Care Standards: (Part 8) Root Management 2012, Tree Care Industry Association Page 12 Ancient and other Veteran Trees: further guidance on management Lonsdale, ed. 2013, English Nature Veteran Tree Care, 2013, Roddick, Christopher, Ecological Landscaping Alliance View full article
  5. Standard Tree Inspection

    Arborists get a lot of practice studying the crown, the upper tree. Studying the lower tree is less familiar, but the upper tree cannot stand without the lower tree, so it’s worth the time to inspect it carefully. I was privileged to chair the US subgroup that wrote Part 8 of the ANSI A300 Tree Care Standard, which covers trunk, flare and root inspection. I’d like to describe it to arborists in other countries, in the hope that their standards will someday adopt and perhaps improve upon it. I’ll also refer to the German ZTV standard, which inspired our work on inspection. The first requirement is for arborists to consider the owner’s goals in the light of what tree care can and cannot do, and establish the objective. The ZTV’s objective, “Provide maximum vitality health and safety of trees” is a good start but there may be other objectives to add, such as increasing wildlife habitat and shade. Once the owner and arborist agree, it’s time to write specifications – “a detailed, measurable plan or proposal for meeting the objective.” Specifying the method, area, depth, tools, and limitations of inspections is required, as is avoiding damage to living tissue, bark or soil. Recommendations in the US standard are stated as ‘should’, such as “Inspection should include: Conditions in the crown that may reflect root conditions Stem tissue connecting the crown and the roots (functional vertical segments) Girdling of buttress roots or stems by roots or foreign objects, and the tree’s response Tree association with beneficial and harmful insects Tree association with pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms (e.g. mycorrhizae) Wounds, and the tree’s response to wounds Mechanical damage to detectable roots, and response Indications of root disease and response Graft unions in grafted trees. Our goal was to encourage arborists to be objective by taking note of positive features like beneficial associates and response growth. Too often, what passes for inspection is a witch hunt for negative ‘defects’, real or imagined. So training in inspection is a vital complement to Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ), with its focus on targets. Only after a careful inspection can a credible opinion on likelihood of failure be formed. Tree owners, and trees, deserve no less. Inspection is also an essential first step before planning any work on a tree. According to the ZTV, “Before contracts begin, a definite diagnosis.” This step might seem like an aggravation to the arborist who just wants to get on with the job, but this process can open up new revenue streams. First, inspection by itself can be a stand-alone, independent service. As a consultant, the first service that I typically sell to new clients is a one- hour landscape inventory, based on a walk around their property with them. Written specifications for the care of their woody assets is the primary deliverable, which they can then use to shop for contractors. If they ask me to bid, and I want the work, I go off their clock, literally change hats, and bid. Some colleagues see an inevitable conflict of interest in this, but my clients don’t, and neither do I. Writing specs need not take long, using modern technology. Pictures of the trees in question can be emailed to clients, with voice dictation providing specs as captions below each one. Apps such as Skitch can add dots and lines to indicate to the client where pruning cuts would be made, or what area of soil will be modified. As the German standard notes, “Trees in urban areas often show signs of low vitality, which depends on the aboveground and belowground parts. Each tree should be examined individually. If soil aeration, moisture, and nutrients are not available, then improve the growing environment!” So soil modification is sold on most of my jobs. The bottom half of the tree is an increasingly profitable area, and it all starts with inspection. “Mulch, soil and other materials should be removed as needed to allow for inspection.” The flare is defined as, “The area at the base of the plant’s trunk where it broadens to form roots”. We hoped to settle the confusion over ‘trunk flare’ versus ‘root flare’ by doing away with the adjective. The root collar is, “The transition zone between the flare and the root system”, which in most trees is the area where lateral roots branch off of buttress roots. Consistency in terminology really helps, so I hope these terms make inspections easier to do and report on. The German and UK standards are more user-friendly because they embed informational text right in the document. The US standard does not, so it takes careful reading to suss out the meaning. For instance, “Bark tracing of wounds shall remove only dead, loose, foreign and damaged tissue,” means that living tissue shall not be damaged, i.e. the wound shall be made no larger. “Monitoring for callus and woundwood growth and for decay shall be considered,” is weaker language; the arborist has to think about monitoring, but is not required to actually do it. In contrast, the German ZTV gives helpful information that is easy to follow: “Cost-benefit analysis considers ornamental, ecological, cultural, and functional significance of the tree. Consider supporting instead of pruning, predict the tree’s reaction to the work...ability to compartmentalize...”. We are guided to look beyond the present moment to the assets in the tree, and its ability to sustain them. “Coordinate any works on roots, stem and crown with each other” makes the arborist responsible for the whole tree, instead of entrusting the care of the lower tree to the owner or their landscapers. We’ve all seen how well that plan works! The hardest part of managing a tree can be managing the tree’s owner, and the company’s staff. Setting a clear objective sets the expectations for staff and client alike. It’s easier when you ask them to tell you what they want, and listen closely. Quiz clients on site history, past management, and disturbance. Study aerial maps, the ecosystem, your own experience and that of others, and the scientific literature. Then put their perceptions and their problems in the perspective of positive responses that the tree makes. The more we’re able to inspect, the better we can do our jobs. “To assess the effect of different interactions on the vitality of trees requires special knowledge and long- term observation, including the soil and growing environment.” Here the ZTV raises a key point: We must think in ‘tree time’! As Alex Shigo reminded us long ago, trees adapt well, but not as immediately as we may want them to. To make quick assessments and snap judgments may fit other subjects, but it’s more reasonable to mitigate tree conditions that we observe, then wait for them to respond before pronouncing any final judgments. Sample Specifications Root Collar Examinations Using Hand Tools Scope: Trees with fill contacting the trunk. Objective: Avoid damage to the tree from the effects of fill on the trunk. Lessen risk and maintenance needs. Improve health. Provide maximum vitality health and safety. Specifications: Rake any coarse woody debris or fresh mulch away from the root collar area Press the blade of a shovel or a trowel against the trunk. Slide it carefully downward until resistance is met Push the handle toward the trunk, moving the blade away from the trunk Remove individual adventitious roots <1cm and stem-girdling roots <1/10 trunk diameter. Manage larger roots per A300 (Part 8), 83.4 and 84.4. Avoid contact between the trunk and any remaining adventitious, girdling, and circling roots Lift the fertile material away from the trunk and set aside Separate and dispose of any infertile soil and debris. Retain the fertile soil, fine roots, mycorrhizae, and decomposed mulch Repeat until trunk and flare are clear, down to the root collar, where buttress roots divide. Use hand tools, or compressed water or air, to clear the root collar Consider replanting the tree, if the flare is over 2 inches below grade and the tree has been in the ground for less than five years Consider installing a device to control erosion, or remove soil and fine roots outside of the root collar to make a gradual slope Apply 2-4 inches of mulch over the root collar. Avoid mulch contact with the flare Incorporate the fertile material into the rootzone where practical near the dripline. Specify that future management will keep the flare visible Establish specifications for monitoring and maintaining tree health and stability
  6. Standard Tree Inspection

    Arborists get a lot of practice studying the crown, the upper tree. Studying the lower tree is less familiar, but the upper tree cannot stand without the lower tree, so it’s worth the time to inspect it carefully. I was privileged to chair the US subgroup that wrote Part 8 of the ANSI A300 Tree Care Standard, which covers trunk, flare and root inspection. I’d like to describe it to arborists in other countries, in the hope that their standards will someday adopt and perhaps improve upon it. I’ll also refer to the German ZTV standard, which inspired our work on inspection. The first requirement is for arborists to consider the owner’s goals in the light of what tree care can and cannot do, and establish the objective. The ZTV’s objective, “Provide maximum vitality health and safety of trees” is a good start but there may be other objectives to add, such as increasing wildlife habitat and shade. Once the owner and arborist agree, it’s time to write specifications – “a detailed, measurable plan or proposal for meeting the objective.” #jscode# Specifying the method, area, depth, tools, and limitations of inspections is required, as is avoiding damage to living tissue, bark or soil. Recommendations in the US standard are stated as ‘should’, such as “Inspection should include: Conditions in the crown that may reflect root conditions Stem tissue connecting the crown and the roots (functional vertical segments) Girdling of buttress roots or stems by roots or foreign objects, and the tree’s response Tree association with beneficial and harmful insects Tree association with pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms (e.g. mycorrhizae) Wounds, and the tree’s response to wounds Mechanical damage to detectable roots, and response Indications of root disease and response Graft unions in grafted trees. Our goal was to encourage arborists to be objective by taking note of positive features like beneficial associates and response growth. Too often, what passes for inspection is a witch hunt for negative ‘defects’, real or imagined. So training in inspection is a vital complement to Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ), with its focus on targets. Only after a careful inspection can a credible opinion on likelihood of failure be formed. Tree owners, and trees, deserve no less. Inspection is also an essential first step before planning any work on a tree. According to the ZTV, “Before contracts begin, a definite diagnosis.” This step might seem like an aggravation to the arborist who just wants to get on with the job, but this process can open up new revenue streams. First, inspection by itself can be a stand-alone, independent service. As a consultant, the first service that I typically sell to new clients is a one- hour landscape inventory, based on a walk around their property with them. Written specifications for the care of their woody assets is the primary deliverable, which they can then use to shop for contractors. If they ask me to bid, and I want the work, I go off their clock, literally change hats, and bid. Some colleagues see an inevitable conflict of interest in this, but my clients don’t, and neither do I. Writing specs need not take long, using modern technology. Pictures of the trees in question can be emailed to clients, with voice dictation providing specs as captions below each one. Apps such as Skitch can add dots and lines to indicate to the client where pruning cuts would be made, or what area of soil will be modified. As the German standard notes, “Trees in urban areas often show signs of low vitality, which depends on the aboveground and belowground parts. Each tree should be examined individually. If soil aeration, moisture, and nutrients are not available, then improve the growing environment!” So soil modification is sold on most of my jobs. The bottom half of the tree is an increasingly profitable area, and it all starts with inspection. “Mulch, soil and other materials should be removed as needed to allow for inspection.” The flare is defined as, “The area at the base of the plant’s trunk where it broadens to form roots”. We hoped to settle the confusion over ‘trunk flare’ versus ‘root flare’ by doing away with the adjective. The root collar is, “The transition zone between the flare and the root system”, which in most trees is the area where lateral roots branch off of buttress roots. Consistency in terminology really helps, so I hope these terms make inspections easier to do and report on. The German and UK standards are more user-friendly because they embed informational text right in the document. The US standard does not, so it takes careful reading to suss out the meaning. For instance, “Bark tracing of wounds shall remove only dead, loose, foreign and damaged tissue,” means that living tissue shall not be damaged, i.e. the wound shall be made no larger. “Monitoring for callus and woundwood growth and for decay shall be considered,” is weaker language; the arborist has to think about monitoring, but is not required to actually do it. In contrast, the German ZTV gives helpful information that is easy to follow: “Cost-benefit analysis considers ornamental, ecological, cultural, and functional significance of the tree. Consider supporting instead of pruning, predict the tree’s reaction to the work...ability to compartmentalize...”. We are guided to look beyond the present moment to the assets in the tree, and its ability to sustain them. “Coordinate any works on roots, stem and crown with each other” makes the arborist responsible for the whole tree, instead of entrusting the care of the lower tree to the owner or their landscapers. We’ve all seen how well that plan works! The hardest part of managing a tree can be managing the tree’s owner, and the company’s staff. Setting a clear objective sets the expectations for staff and client alike. It’s easier when you ask them to tell you what they want, and listen closely. Quiz clients on site history, past management, and disturbance. Study aerial maps, the ecosystem, your own experience and that of others, and the scientific literature. Then put their perceptions and their problems in the perspective of positive responses that the tree makes. The more we’re able to inspect, the better we can do our jobs. “To assess the effect of different interactions on the vitality of trees requires special knowledge and long- term observation, including the soil and growing environment.” Here the ZTV raises a key point: We must think in ‘tree time’! As Alex Shigo reminded us long ago, trees adapt well, but not as immediately as we may want them to. To make quick assessments and snap judgments may fit other subjects, but it’s more reasonable to mitigate tree conditions that we observe, then wait for them to respond before pronouncing any final judgments. Sample Specifications Root Collar Examinations Using Hand Tools Scope: Trees with fill contacting the trunk. Objective: Avoid damage to the tree from the effects of fill on the trunk. Lessen risk and maintenance needs. Improve health. Provide maximum vitality health and safety. Specifications: Rake any coarse woody debris or fresh mulch away from the root collar area Press the blade of a shovel or a trowel against the trunk. Slide it carefully downward until resistance is met Push the handle toward the trunk, moving the blade away from the trunk Remove individual adventitious roots <1cm and stem-girdling roots <1/10 trunk diameter. Manage larger roots per A300 (Part 8), 83.4 and 84.4. Avoid contact between the trunk and any remaining adventitious, girdling, and circling roots Lift the fertile material away from the trunk and set aside Separate and dispose of any infertile soil and debris. Retain the fertile soil, fine roots, mycorrhizae, and decomposed mulch Repeat until trunk and flare are clear, down to the root collar, where buttress roots divide. Use hand tools, or compressed water or air, to clear the root collar Consider replanting the tree, if the flare is over 2 inches below grade and the tree has been in the ground for less than five years Consider installing a device to control erosion, or remove soil and fine roots outside of the root collar to make a gradual slope Apply 2-4 inches of mulch over the root collar. Avoid mulch contact with the flare Incorporate the fertile material into the rootzone where practical near the dripline. Specify that future management will keep the flare visible Establish specifications for monitoring and maintaining tree health and stability View full article
  7. Woodland trees next to property

    Move the garden? How much light is needed? Yes check ownership and regulations first--owner's job really. Job totally depends on where and how much light is needed. Ivy can be cut at top of trunks to conserve habitat.
  8. Interesting Tree failure - girdling roots?

    Totally a nursery defect; could have been corrected at planting time. Growing grass up to the trunk obscures these problems, and so many others. "The flare SHALL be visible at all times" quoth the ANSI standards.
  9. Decay images

    That foundation has crumbled too many times to put any weight on. http://www.urbanforestanalytics.com/sites/default/files/pdf/bond_tR.pdf Identifying vascular pathways and buttressing and load is a starting point provided by the tree. There may be a role for formulae but it is not primary. Starting with a number (gained from wounding the tree) leads one to chase more numbers, down the rabbit hole. Off with his head!
  10. VETcert

    I was kind of lost on that "Where" query; my last big vet tree survey job was at a cemetery, http://www.springgrove.org/uploads/docs/1/Plant_Collection_Booklet_6.27.2013.pdf so I said that. We have a few private manors akin to royal properties in the UK, but not nearly as extensive. I could have answered "Where you least expect them" but not sure if that would have helped...if you find them in orchards, say so. The survey is not scientific so I would feel free to amend it. But it might be best for the purpose to look more for commonalities between apples and oaks and pines etc. than to draw lines of difference. Black arts?? As for posting it; why not?
  11. Decay images

    t/R formulae are bollocks anyway. Trees do not do arithmetic.
  12. VETcert

    1. Does your country have a recognised definition of a veteran tree? If so, please provide below (to understand variation across partner organisations). A tree that has survived conflicts with people and their environment 2. What are the three most common places veteran trees can be found in your country? 1. Forests 2. Cemeteries 3. Parks 3. What are the three most common problems/conflicts which arise in relation to veteran trees in your country? 1. Perceived risk and defensive/inexperienced consultants. 2. Damage to tree and soil by construction activities. 3. Damage to tree by inexperienced practitioners. Practicing Level (Tree Surgeon/ Forester /Contractor) 1. Knowledge of tree anatomy to follow specifications such as “Reduce east side with cuts <8 cm to buds or laterals growing upright or into the open, lengths 1-3m, <15% of living buds.” 2. Knowledge of climbing techniques to perform crown reduction. 3. Knowledge of root and soil conditions and ability to mitigate. Consulting Level (Tree inspector/ Forestry inspector/ Advisor) 1. Knowledge of connections between roots and leaves and people and environment. 2. Knowledge of treatments such as pruning, soil care, wound treatment, cabling, etc. 3. Knowledge of trees’ abilities to adapt. 5. What are the three most important things someone who works on veteran trees should be able to do (skills)? Practicing Level (Tree Surgeon/ Forester /Contractor) 1. Ability to inspect crown conditions such as forks, cavities, and associates. 2. Ability to ascend and access the crown. 3. Ability to recognise what is holding the tree up, and keeping it alive. Consulting Level (Tree inspector/ Forester/ Advisor) 1. Ability to inspect in depth the tree flare, roots, trunk, and branches. 2. Ability to recognise what is holding the tree up, and keeping it alive. 3. Ability to establish the objective and write clear specifications. 6. Should there be any minimum conditions of entry to the accreditation scheme? A) Number of years’ practical experience Practicing Level (Tree Surgeon/ Forester /Contractor) 5-10 years Consulting Level (Tree inspector/ Forester/ Advisor) 10+ years B) Qualifications Practicing Level (Tree Surgeon/Contractor) ISA Certified Arborist, ETW are international. Certification by states such as Massachusetts. Consulting Level (Tree inspector/ Advisor) A combination of academic and industry qualifications such as uni courses and the ISA’s Board-Certified Master Arborist, the ETT, VETree, which are internationally recognised. (TRAQ is a US-corporate-based, defect-driven, and defensive scheme. It does not verify a substantial level of knowledge or competence compared to the above.)
  13. Managing Trees with Decay & Dysfunction

    Is coppicing an option?
  14. Tree roots on slopes

    It's required, from the sounds of it.
  15. Pruning wound fungi

    Beautiful diversity, and a powerful reminder to keep wounds small when possible. I've seen those yellow beady things now and then, but it's not a major player over here.

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