A dangerous tree is one that is likely to cause serious damage to property or injury to people. Many trees become unstable when entering the latter stages of disease – though perfectly healthy, young trees can also become a danger if damaged by severe weather.
No. A tree will grow (within its species limits) as large as the space, light, water, nutrition and oxygen available to it permits. Trees cannot grow too tall – except in human perception.
Not necessarily. One of the reasons a tree grows with a lean is because it is in close competition with another specimen and has been forced to grow at an angle to chase the light. In response the tree lays down denser wood on one side of its trunk. There may be a problem however if a previously vertical tree suddenly develops a lean.
Certainly some hollow trees may have so little healthy tissue surrounding the hollow area that they must be regarded as dangerous, but this is by no means the norm. Trees do not become hollow overnight – it can take decades – and while the centre of the tree (the heartwood) may be decaying, the tree continues to lay down healthy wood (sapwood) around the outside of its trunk. This results in the formation of a cylinder, the strength of which depends upon the percentage of healthy to unhealthy tissue.
Some trees are protected by TPOs – Tree Preservation Orders. These trees are normally highly visible to the public, and integral to the local environment. Should you wish to work on – or remove – a protected tree, you will need to seek permission from your local council.
If the tree constitutes an immediate risk, you can take steps to make the tree safe prior to receiving permission – but the onus is on you to prove that the work was absolutely necessary.
If you identify a dangerous tree owned by somebody other than yourself, express your concern to them and encourage them to take action. If the tree is deemed ‘imminently dangerous’, the council can require the owner to act by law.
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