In general, the benefits of trees are widely recognised. Even more in these days of increasing ‘green’ awareness. The list below gives more specific reasons why trees play such a crucial role in creating a successful urban environment.
Conserving energy – carefully positioned trees and hedges can cut heating and cooling requirements in buildings. This provides not only shade in the summer but shelter from cold wind during the winter.
Character and charm – trees add beauty to their surroundings. They bring colour, softening harsh building lines and screening unsightly views.
Improving air quality – trees improve air quality by absorbing pollutants and intercepting harmful particulates.
Enriching habitats and biodiversity – they host a wide range of insects, birds and mammals that subsequently rely on trees for food and protection.
Enhancing health and wellbeing – the value of trees and green spaces for reducing stress and boosting mental health is well-recognised.
Strengthening communities – creating and caring for green spaces helps people connect with their communities and surroundings.
Reducing flood risk – trees absorb water from the ground, reducing pressure on storm drainage and mitigating flood risk. Likewise, they can also help prevent erosion and improve soil quality.
Alongside the clear benefits which trees provide, it’s essential to assess the risks. You should also understand the legal duty of care. This requires tree owners to take a balanced and proportionate approach to tree safety management.
Documented statistics show the number of deaths and serious injuries from falling or fallen trees and branches annually is low. However, trees are living organisms so they naturally lose their branches or fail. With this is mind, those of substantial size can represent a significant danger.
Potential and actual structural damage to buildings is well documented. It’s a familiar concern for property owners and managers alike.
Common-sense Risk Management
Given that we cannot guarantee a tree to be safe, of course, nor can we achieve zero risk. A disproportionate response to the actual risks posed by trees to people and property. In turn this could lead to unnecessary and costly interventions, particularly on roads and in public places.
Therefore, it deems reasonable, to develop a management strategy that strikes a balance between these risks and benefits.
Normally, if an organisation publishes a maintenance plan including information on risk management of their trees, it demonstrates it’s fulfilling its duty of care.
Do you manage trees and have concerns as to trees and duty of care?