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The Risk to the Public of Tree Fall

A principal aim of the National Tree Safety Group (NTSG) was to develop a nationally recognised approach to tree safety management at least partly in response to a perception that some valuable trees are being lost because of an increase in defensive arboriculture.

The NTSG recognised the lack of a scientific evidence base for tree risk management. To help fill this gap the NTSG commissioned research to be undertaken by the Centre for Decision Analysis and Risk Management.

The research was initially broken down in to two parts. The first determined the risk posed by trees, using existing data sources and collating information to one authoritative reference. The second part focused on the public perception of the risks posed by trees and tree failure.

This final stage of the DARM research was to:

  • Work with the steering group to draft an industry statement.
  • Undertake a study of risk/benefit calculation in tree risk management. This would collate national policy with respect to trees, academic research on benefits from trees and could include some hypothetical examples from different types of situation in which the public interacts with trees.
  • Evaluate some economic considerations in general terms.

A recent paper evaluates the risk:

Ball, D.J. and Watt, J. (2013) The Risk to the Public of Tree Fall. Journal of Risk Research 16, Issue: 2, 261-269

The guidance produced by the NTSG is now a national guidance document produced by an authoritative and representative group. Its content and recommendations, if followed, should assist trees owners involved in personal injury or compensation claims when presented to the court as supporting documentation. This is available on the Forestry Commission website.

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