Well it’s that time of year again, no not Christmas, but the season of torrential rain, storms and gales, and the inevitable unscheduled site closures, which are largely due to the risk of falling branches and trees!

Although being unable to enjoy the use of these areas might be frustrating, it is for a good reason, and not a decision undertaken lightly; being responsible for safety on our sites, we take tree safety management very seriously.

In an effort to ensure that none of our trees pose a risk to either public or staff safety, we have developed a tree management policy that involves the assessment and categorising of risk zones, which specify areas of high, medium and low risk of potential damage by tree falls.

These assessments are based on the number of mature trees in each location, their proximity to buildings and structures, and how often they are frequented by people.

Our trees are routinely inspected by our trained staff throughout the year, both in the winter and when in leaf, to assess the trees’ health and structural conditions; in addition to this, staff, volunteers and the public are encouraged to report any issues they might have noticed so that we can deal with or check on any potential problems.

Any diseased or damaged trees will be reviewed and where necessary sections removed, or in extreme cases felled. Where possible, any viable timber retrieved from tree work is recycled in projects around our sites.

In light of so many current biological threats to our tree population, this work is vital in helping to maintain a healthy tree population, and to eliminate any potential safety issues.

Whilst we make every effort to determine the health and structural security of our trees we cannot predict exactly what effect severe weather will have on them. We are not trying to suggest that trees are inherently dangerous – indeed they are not; they should be enjoyed and cherished – but it would be remiss of us not to undertake appropriate safety precautions when severe weather is forecast.

Therefore in such situations, precautionary measures including site closures are taken to protect our staff, volunteers the public and property. We do hope that people will bear with us on such occasions, and act on the advice given.

Ignoring the closure notices may not only endanger those irresponsible enough to enter the site, but could also put at risk the life of others who have to react to such breaches.

John Davies
Countryside Warden – East Cornwall