Trees Fall, Drought Blamed Yet Again

The flurry of storm activity over the past week has focused attention on big trees - especially the trees that have fallen. News outlets have produced a stream of reports mentioning the damage caused by tree failures. The AJC, WDUN, The West Georgian, WXIA, and WGCL, all ran mainstream stories just in the past few days.

Because the drought is still in people's minds, it has become a catchall scapegoat for a number of tree-related problems. It is easy for people to grasp for a connection between drought stress and trees falling, but it is somewhat rash to do so without fully analyzing each case. Catastrophic tree failure is an event that involves the interaction of forces upon a very complex tree system. There are few resources and tools available to diagnose drought-related failures.

Of the catastrophic failures that I have recently observed in Atlanta, drought has not been the primary or secondary cause. Rather, each case involved serious structural problems such as decay. These problems predated the drought by many years.

Quick diagnoses of 'drought stress' will only confuse homeowners and could lead to poor and expensive decisions. Comprehensive evaluation of large trees is recommended prior to removal, and only by a person fully qualified in tree risk assessment. Hopefully, mass tree removal will not become the solution of choice.

Comments

MikeB said…
Finally a sane analysis of tree failure. I have not seen the news story but had heard that "the drought" caused the tree to fail (I argued that it was global warming)and was wondering if a certified forensic arborist made that conclusion.

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