Tree Safety & Survey

Tree Safety Overview
A great deal of time, effort and money have been wasted in reacting to concerns over tree safety.  Trees are generally a valuable asset in our living environment and provide tangible benefits for our well being.  The National Tree Safety Group was set up in August 2007 to address concerns regarding tree safety and more importantly to provide practical advice to tree owners on how to manage their tree assets responsibly.

A M Lane Ltd have been at the leading edge of providing sensible pragmatic tree safety advice to home owners, major landowners and local councils.  We pride ourselves in providing defendable tree safety advice for our clients whilst preserving valuable tree assets.

Are my trees safe and am I liable?

No tree is entirely safe, however broadly speaking for liability to flow under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 or the Health & Safety At Work etc Act 1974, any failure of a tree needs to be reasonably foreseeable.  That is to say that the failure might have been foreseeably avoided by taking some form of action proportional to the risk posed.  Clearly the easiest way of removing any foreseeable risk is to fell the tree, however this has significant environmental, financial and cultural implications, such that it is not a reasonable response to what is generally a negligible risk.

Foreseeability is a matter for the courts to ultimately decide, nevertheless a tree owner has a considerable defence where they can prove that reasonable steps have been taken to avoid injury or damage.  Being reasonable can include the inspection of the trees and the carrying out of works to bring the trees within acceptable levels of safety.  A systematic inspection by a suitably qualified person can provide a suitable defence where a tree fails and causes injury or loss. 

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Mortgage & Householder Report

You may have found a property and everything is proceeding until at the 11th hour the mortgage company or surveyor request a report on trees close to the property.  We can respond very quickly to provide a draft report for your mortgage lender or insurer.  All we need are the post code and address details, your contact number and the number of the agent selling the property so we can gain access.

There is no need to be put off purchasing due to having trees on or close to your property.  We can provide expert advice on the safety of the trees, as well as any potential problems they pose with regard to drains or foundations.

Tree Survey & Inspection

Whether you have 1 or 1000 trees we are able to provide a survey and inspection service to meet your needs.  Several levels of survey and inspection are offered including the use of the Quantified Tree Risk Assessment methodology.  In all cases our surveyors and inspectors are experienced professionals holding recognised qualifications in tree inspection.

At a basic level we offer a Walkover Survey whereby our surveyor does not inspect each tree individually but makes a cursory visual assessment of your trees, only inspecting those showing signs of debility or structural weakness.  The aim is to identify safety issues and make recommendations.  This provides a quick, cost effective approach to surveying, but does not give the benefit of the detail provided by inspection.  Reports are typically in a tabulated form with trees being grouped where necessary.

Tree Inspection seeks to look at the trees in more detail.  Again groups of trees may be assessed collectively rather than individually.  The assessment will focus on their safety, as well as making recommendations for their future management.  Reports are tabulated for easy access and are supported by a sketch plan.

Quantified Tree Risk Assessment

A M Lane Ltd are licensed users of the QTRA Methodology which provides a unique method of making a 'target lead' approach to tree survey or inspection.

Click on the picture to link you to the QTRA website for more information.

We have used the methodology successfully in managing large tree populations for commercial and local government clients.  The methodology allows us to identify which parts of the population need inspection soonest and to develop tree risk strategies based on the data collected.

For larger tree populations the data is collected using MS Excel for ease of transfer, however other bespoke tree management data bases can also incorporate QTRA as  a module in the data collection software.

Aerial Tree Inspections

All too often significant tree defects are located in the canopy of the tree and need to be assessed close up.  Inspection under 3m can most often be undertaken from a ladder and our surveyors are equipped and trained to do do this, subject to an onsite risk assessment.  Beyond 3m we have to resort to inspection from a rope and harness or using a Mobile Elevated Work Platform.  In both cases a minimum of two trained and competent operatives are required.

Detailed Decay Analysis

Decay does not always immediately call for drastic pruning or for the removal of a tree. Decay fungi and trees have evolved together over millennia, such that we need to assess the relationship carefully before making drastic and often expensive decisions.

Where decay is identified during inspection, the significance of that decay to the tree's safety and management needs to be assessed.  We can send fungal fruiting bodies off for analysis on behalf of the client at cost where field identification is not possible. Fungal identification then enables us to determine the type of decay present in the tree and how significant this is to the affected part.

Following identification we can use state of the art decay mapping equipment or a simple small diameter twist drill to assess the extent of decay. 

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Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging is the latest tool in the arboricultural kit for assessing the ability of trees to respond to environmental, physiological and structural problems.

Using the latest thermal imaging cameras, thermal Imaging allows the assessment of tree structure according to the amount of functional wood present. The amount of functional wood determines how efficiently the tree can respond to changes in its environment, in particular changes in water availability. The potential for response can be used as a way of assessing the ‘health’ of trees, since trees that respond poorly will be more likely to suffer permanent damage from drought stress or construction work.

A M Lane Ltd is a licensed user of this technology through Trees Project Ltd who have helped pioneer this technology in the UK and have developed software systems to analyse the data being collected. Click this link for more information about thermal imaging and trees.

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