In light of predictions for an active hurricane season, the Forestry Department is urging persons to inspect trees around their properties to ensure that they are able to withstand high winds and to employ the correct methods in pruning trees where necessary.
Silviculturist at the Forestry Department, Mr. Lawrence Nelson, is urging the public, especially those in the urban areas where trees may be growing close to buildings and houses, to begin pruning their trees now.
“It is important that pruning is done from early. Persons should not wait until we have a storm warning or a hurricane watch to prune their trees as that may not be enough time and as a result, lives and properties are placed at unnecessary risk,” he said.
The Forestry Department is also urging the public to consult with qualified tree-care persons or land care entities to ensure the use of proper pruning techniques as the use of incorrect methods can affect the overall health and lifespan of trees.
“There are techniques to the pruning process; it’s not just about chopping off branches. When pruning we need to ensure that we do not expose the trees to fungus or termite infestation. If this happens, overtime the tree starts decaying and this makes it vulnerable in extreme weather events,” Mr. Nelson noted.
The following should be noted when pruning a tree.
• Do not make cuts that are flush with the tree trunk or main branches to which they were attached
• Cut surfaces should be slightly slanted from the upper to the lower side of the branch
• Where feasible, apply a fungicidal tincture (or plain paint) to the cut surface to retard rot or termite infestation
• If a large branch overhangs a buildings or other infrastructure, the incremental removal of small, manageable pieces will decrease the danger of damage to roofs or other structure.
• The pruning of tree roots is often a heavy-duty task requiring machinery. In order to maximize a tree’s stability and resistance to high winds, root pruning should be done by a professional and should be avoided during the hurricane season.
Meanwhile, the Agency is advising that it is not only necessary to prune trees before a hurricane but checks should be carried out after to assess the damage and conduct additional pruning if needed.
While the Forestry Department doesn’t offer tree pruning services, persons may contact the Agency for tree pruning tips as well as advice on the best trees to plant in a particular area and how to plant and care for a tree.