Ex­perts warn of dead tree dan­ger

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - ELESHA ED­MONDS AND AMANDA SAX­TON

Safety warn­ings have been is­sued by ar­borists and child­care ex­perts after a fall­ing tree left four Auck­land tod­dlers hos­pi­talised with head in­juries.

The four chil­dren were in­jured, one crit­i­cally, when a tree fell down at Dis­cov­er­ies Ed­u­care in New­mar­ket.

Tree ex­perts have warned of the dan­ger of dead trees say­ing it should be the prop­erty owner’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to get them checked.

The Early Child­hood Coun­cil has also cau­tioned child­care cen­tres to ‘‘take ex­tra care with large trees’’. It is not clear what state the tree which fell at Dis­cov­er­ies Ed­u­care was in.

Tree con­sul­tant Brad Cad­wal­lader said the tree which fell ap­peared, from im­ages, to be a Eu­ca­lyp­tus and its lack of leaves meant it may have been dead.

‘‘If an ar­borist looked at the tree in the last two and three years, they would point out it was dead and needs ur­gent re­moval,’’ he said.

He sus­pects there may have been dam­age to the root sys­tem which made the tree die out.

‘‘Most lay peo­ple might not know it’s a prob­lem, un­less you have some- one who knows some­thing about trees.’’

He said trees should be reg­u­larly in­spected, and could be trusted if they proved healthy.

‘‘Healthy trees don’t tend to fall over,’’ he said.

Seth Thomp­son, pres­i­dent of the NZ Ar­bori­cul­tural As­so­ci­a­tion, agrees that peo­ple should take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their trees.

‘‘For­tu­nately, harm or in­jury from trees is ex­tremely low,’’ he said.

‘‘How­ever, it is im­por­tant to recog­nise that it is a duty of care for tree own­ers to en­sure their trees are both healthy and safe.’’

Early Child­hood Coun­cil pres­i­dent Theresa Dodd said the ac­ci­dent was ‘‘very un­ex­pected’’ and that she had never heard of chil­dren be­ing in­jured by fall­ing trees at New Zealand early child­hood education cen­tres be­fore.

Child­care cen­tres are re­quired to check haz­ards daily, un­der cur­rent reg­u­la­tions.

Dodd said that her coun­cil would ad­vise its mem­bers to in­clude large trees in their hazard man­age­ment rou­tines from now on.

The Early Child­hood Coun­cil is set to ex­am­ine the causes of the ac­ci­dent, Dodd said.

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