Visual tree assement

It is possible to identify potential structural weak points in trees through the understanding of certain visual indicators.
This Sycamore was next to a road and very close to some electricity lines. It was approximately 12 m tall.
The tree forked into two stems at about 1.5 metres in height. Included bark (line of tight inwardly folding bark) can be seen running from this point to the ground. The other side of the stem mirrored the included bark indicating a potential crack within the tree.
Included bark is a good indicator of a weak union in a tree.

This weak point of the tree could have split in high winds causing major damage to the electricity lines and could possibly have caused an accident on the road / pavement.
Due to the high risk target area the decision to remove the tree was made.
When the tree was dismantled it became evident how serious the crack was. At some points there was only a few inches of holding wood preventing the tree from failing.
If the tree had been in a low risk target area it could possibly have been retained by performing a crown reduction and with the installation of stem bracing equipment. This would have reduced the forces and loading at the point of the weak union, creating a safer structure.
In this instance, bracing would not have been appropriate and if the tree had failed, causing damage to people or property, then the tree owner could be found negligent in fulfilling their ‘duty of care’.

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