from Hutt City Council
11 September 2003
TREE PRUNING PRACTICES HAVE SAFETY ELEMENT
The recent severe electricity burns suffered by an Auckland boy who climbed a tree and touched a power line reinforced the need for street tree branches to be regularly pruned.
"Hutt City's contractors have recently adopted an alternative practice of 'V' or 'tunnel' pruning street trees to clear tree branches from power lines," said Judy Robb, Hutt City Horticultural Manager.
"Previous arboricultural practice saw 40 - 70 year old trees being 'topped' to ensure clearance between the power lines and the tree.
"However, this practice resulted in a denser crown developing and created further problems for the maintenance and safety of the trees, with greater shading to residential properties" said Judy Robb.
The recognised practice of tunnel pruning can look unsightly in the first instance but over a period of 2 years will actually provide a more attractive form of tree and ensure a higher level of safety for the public.
Paul Hendrikse, Excell Tree Services Contract Manager (Hutt City's contractor), likens the pruning to people undergoing reconstructive surgery.
"After surgery, people look pretty terrible. After a short period of time, however, the end result is much better. This is the same with tunnel pruning. It may look a little unsightly at first but will result in the preservation and longevity of these trees, which are a valuable asset to the city, said Paul Hendrikse.
This form of pruning is only required as a "one-off" to get the trees within specifications. This method is especially suitable for Pohutukawas. Trees on Cambridge and Oxford terraces have recently been pruned to this standard. Some trees in Ariki Street were pruned approx 12 months ago and are now developing the form that is desired for aesthetic and safety reasons.
"Arboriculture practice in urban areas will always be a balance between infrastructure requirements and the public's desire for a pleasant environment. Safety is always a priority," said Judy Robb.
"Current and future plantings in the city are well planned to ensure the correct species are used. However, in order to preserve the mature trees we now enjoy, this recognised arboricultural practice is required."
Heavily insulated Saturn lines are not part of the clearance contract. Budget constraints do not allow clearance in bush reserve areas.