Delegates enjoying a fine day in the Royal Botanic Garden.
The impeccable setting of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh awaited around 25 enthusiastic delegates who attended the annual Scottish Branch Summer Seminar on 21 June.
We were delighted to welcome Jeremy Barrell to provide his expert perspective on the topic of highway tree risk management. Jeremy needs no introduction, and his knowledge and experience of the subject have been honed over the years, particularly through his involvement as an expert witness to several legal cases where tree failures have resulted in harm. Under cross-examination from a barrister the requirements of a defensible risk management regime have been brought sharply into focus.
A lively question and answer exchange initiated the session. This covered key points including the level and frequency of tree inspections, the qualification of the inspector and reference to published guidance. The use of ‘drive-by’ tree assessments was discussed, and examples were provided as to how these can be used as part of a tree risk management approach but cannot be depended upon alone to ensure tree safety.
We heard how informal observations made by untrained inspectors had not proved reliable in court and robust tree risk management should be undertaken by properly trained and experienced personnel.
Thought-provoking points were raised relating to how the typical rates of deterioration noted in some species of trees should influence reinspection timing and how root distribution and imbalance in crowns can impact tree stability.
There followed a slide show illustrating the topics discussed and providing facts and figures relating to incidents involving tree failure. This included the results of a Freedom of Information request which uncovered the seemingly inadequate approach to tree safety taken by many highway authorities.
Following a buffet lunch, Will Hinchcliffe, Lead Arborist at the Royal Botanic Garden, took over to guide an informative tour of the tree collection. This provided the opportunity to look at a range tree risk issues and how these are managed by the garden, whilst enjoying the magnificent surroundings in the height of their summer splendour.
The day was very well received by all those who attended, providing valuable insight into this complex subject, and plenty to contemplate for those undertaking tree risk assessments.
This article was taken form Issue 186 Autumn 2019 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.