Trees need check-ups to ensure public safety

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

HEALTHY trees do not just grow on trees.

A forester said recent incidents involving falling trees raise the need to monitor and maintain trees in public areas, like roads and parks, to ensure their health and the safety of the public.

Forester Orlyn Orlanes-Roxas said maintaining the health of trees involves, among others, proper pruning and regular inspection.


The fallen century-old acacia along the national highway in San Fernando, Cebu was reportedly diseased and was among the trees selected to be cut to pave the way for a road widening project. The tree toppled and fell on a passing truck last July 10 and injured 1 person.

Roxas said regular monitoring of trees can prevent similar accidents.

Although only experts can confirm if a tree is diseased, some signs of illness are obvious to ordinary folk.

Roxas said common manifestations of illness in trees include yellowing of leaves and dead branches.

She said diseases in trees can be caused by many factors including insect attack and stress.

The Landowner Resource Center (LRC) of Ontario, Canada published in 2000 a manual on maintaining urban trees. The paper states that trees living in urban environments are often under a lot of stress.

Stress may be caused by compacted and poor soil, construction of roads and driveways that restrict roots, and shortage of water and nutrients.

Salt from sediments left on the road, pollution and hazardous chemicals also threaten the health of trees.

The LRC paper states that compacting removes the air from the soil and destroys the soil structure. Exposed roots is a sign that the soil has been compacted.


The LRC advises proper pruning, which allows the remaining branches to stay healthy. It says pruning improves air circulating in the branches and prevents fungi growth.

Dead and crossing branches need to be pruned but pruning should not exceed one-third of the tree’s crown.

The LRC advises the removal of diseased trees, or those that have large cracks or holes in the trunk.

Trees with severed roots, dead wood in the crown, smaller or off-color leaves should also be removed because these are signs that the tree has root damage.

The LRC says a mound that appears on the soil near a tree indicates that the tree is leaning and may fall.

Roxas said incidents of toppling trees should not be used to discourage the planting of trees in public areas and even along roads.

She said that instead of exotic species like acacia, native trees ought to be planted to help restore the area’s biodiversity. She recommended native tree species like narra, tindalo and tugas.

But she said there is no assurance that native trees would not become ill so regular inspections and maintenance should be conducted. (LAP)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 03, 2014.

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