UKTC Archive

Re: Taking the 'defect' out of tree risk assessment

Subject: Re: Taking the 'defect' out of tree risk assessment
From: Wayne Tyson
Date: Jan 07 2021 22:53:51
The more one generalizes about a phenomenon, the less one knows about any
factor bearing upon it (apologies to Henry Geiger).

Trees, like all living things, are dynamically complex, and as such, actual
knowledge concerning a tree (or any other living thing) is impossible to
know for certain. One has to become comfortable with or aware of the
defects in one's knowledge. No one can know for certain exactly when a tree
will fail, but it should be possible, by studying tree failures and defects
in a disciplined way, to have a rather more reasonable than unreasonable
idea of whether a given tree is more or less likely to fail *if* one has
sufficient data to make a SWAG rather than a WAG about it's potential for
increasing or decreasing stability. It seems to me that there is more than
a little resistance to the idea of collecting relevant data. Why?

One can start with relevant disciplines such as basic physics, the nature
of materials, structural engineering driving the other end of the
experience continuum watching for relevant matches between observed
phenomena and "natural laws."

Science and emotion don't mix well, but they needn't be incompatible if
they are simply acknowledged.

WT

On Thu, Jan 7, 2021 at 9:58 AM AV Arboriculture <mike@xxxxxxx.co.uk> wrote:

Michael,

I fully understand that trees grow fine with 'defects', features, wounds,
damage, etc, and that they are utilised by flora, fauna and fungi. Of
course, tree assessment also involves looking at other mitigating factors
such as reaction wood, vigour, context etc. And yes, benefits from the tree
should also be assessed. But the discussion was about the the use of the
word 'defect'.

Is it useful to be able to communicate the difference between features
that are not increasing the likelihood of failure and those that are? If
so, how is this done? Normally by using a different term. 'Defect' is a
negative term, but rightly so - it is describing a situation that has a
potentially negative outcome.

Someone else said that arboriculture is a young discipline and we do
indeed borrow from others disciplines. One of these disciplines, which that
is quite relevant when talking about biomechanics, is engineering.
Engineers talk about defects all the time, though they apply it in a much
more general way to describe aesthetics as well as structural issues.

I would say that there's nothing wrong with the word, just the use of it
by some. If the term is changed, it won't necessarily change the people who
mis-use it.

If you disagree then what would folks suggest would be a more useful or
relevant way to talk to our clients about features that are increasing the
likelihood of failure beyond that which is acceptable?

Mike Charkow



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The UKTC forum is supported by Bosky Trees arboricultural consultancy and
Stockholm Tree Pits
https://www.stockholmtreepits.co.uk