Media Response Leaning Trees

Questions and Responses

We've had reports of a couple of trees leaning over near the corner of Carmen Court and Watsons Rd in Glen Waverley, as well as one outside Brentwood Secondary College (they're quite noticeable on Google Street View, even though that was taken two years ago). Apparently community members have asked for them to be removed due to safety fears.

Does council have a position on these trees and, if so, what is it?

Council was made aware on Sunday, 18 August 2019 that a large street tree on Watsons Rd, Glen Waverley outside Brentwood Secondary College had fallen. Upon inspection of the fallen tree we found that it still had a healthy leafy canopy and was free of disease and decay and had no outward signs that it would fall. It had been completely uprooted, which indicates that strong winds most likely caused it to fall. Council’s contractor had undertaken proactive pruning works on 12 August to this tree and others in the area as part of our regular tree maintenance program. No faults or follow up works on the tree were reported to Council by the contractor.

Council arborists have inspected the other trees next to the one that fell, as well as others on Watson Road and found them to be in good to fair health. These trees have no signs of cracking, heaving or ground movement which we look for as part of these routine inspections. These trees are listed on more frequent re-inspection program and will be inspected every two months to ensure that their condition does not change which may require action from Council.

Does these trees' location near a school (thus anticipating a higher level of foot traffic) have any bearing in determining the trees' status?

All trees are inspected based on their current health, structural defects, presence of pests and diseases and their likely risk or failure rate. Factors like high foot traffic areas are taken in to consideration when evaluating risk.

Are they significant trees?

We consider these trees a valuable asset to our streetscape as they are well established and still have good longevity and contribute to the characteristic of the neighbourhood.  But above all the safety of the trees and the community is the main consideration.

More generally, are trees that lean on an angle like this safe? Is there a greater risk of them falling in various weather conditions?

The angle of a tree does not indicate it is at risk of falling. Trees that are on an angle have naturally grown and adapted to their current growing conditions and their roots grow so as to compensate for this.

Anything else?

Council conducts proactive tree inspections annually on all street trees and bi-annually for trees on council land including open space reserves, community centres, neighbourhood houses, kindergartens, preschools and  playgrounds. Council also provides qualified arborist inspections where any issues raised by residents regarding street trees and  trees on council land. This inspection is typically completed within 10 days of the enquiry however a risk-based approach is used to determine the priority of each request and more urgent requests are dealt with immediately. 

Issued: 20 September 2019
To: Leader
Quoting: Mayor, Councillor Shane McCluskey