The fear of falling trees and tree-limbs can lead to massive expenditures on defensive tree management and unwarranted, irrational culling of trees.
Experts say one of the greatest threats to veteran (old) trees is misunderstanding (Read 2000). Many have been cut down as they were thought of as dying, diseased and dangerous.
Those who study veteran trees know that they naturally shed branches, which helps to relieve the pressure on declining root and leaf systems and helps the tree maintain stability.
Trees may last for centuries in this way, and this final stage can be the longest in a tree’s life. Pruning some limbs from these trees will usually make them safe (Corney 2007).
In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive, in charge of establishing safety guidelines, has determined that the risk of someone being killed by a tree in a public place is about 1 in 20 million. (HSE 2007).
Compare that with the odds of being killed in a terrorist attack (1:650,000) or the risk of being killed by lightening (1:1 million) (CBC; Environment Canada).
A common risk analysis model suggests that the risk of death of 1:10,000 is unacceptable, while the risk of death of 1:1 million is broadly acceptable. Taken in this context, the risk from trees is miniscule.
We desperately need a tree risk management strategy based upon reasonable risk control.
The unquestionable and significant benefits of mature trees must be factored into this strategy.
Want to learn more about how we should be looking after our veteran trees?
Check out the Biodiversity Action Plan For Veteran Trees on sites affiliated with the The Caravan Club (UK) by Just Ecology.
View The Biodiversity Action Plan For Veteran Trees
Guelph Urban Forest Friends have been advocating for our urban trees, including a stronger protective tree bylaw and a separate urban forestry department with a certified forester to more effectively manage tree maintenance and coordinate public education on the value of our mature trees.
Please contact Mayor and Council about this issue.
Tell them to get the Strategic Urban Forestry Management Plan completed and a strong and comprehensive protective bylaw passed. Let them know that the protection and management of our urban forest will be an election issue this October.
Contacting Guelph City Council
Mayor Farbridge: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 1: Bob Bell email@example.com, Kathleen Farrelly firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 2: Vicki Beard email@example.com, Ian Findlay firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 3: Maggie Laidlaw email@example.com, June Hofland firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 4: Gloria Kovach email@example.com, Mike Salisbury firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 5: Lise Burcher email@example.com, Leanne Piper firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 6: Christine Billings email@example.com, Karl Wettstein firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t know your ward? Click here to see the map
Majestic Black Walnut Tree in the Arboretum
Your Black Walnut tree is a very special tree! Air quality, food and health; all are affected by this wonderful tree.
Black walnut trees are very important to our food security. They provide edible nuts and support the life cycle of 130 different species of Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths), bees and beetles. According to Douglas W. Tallamy in his book, Bringing Home Nature, these pollinators contribute to more than half of our food production.
It is true that some plants do not like to grow where the natural herbicide, juglone, secreted by the Black Walnut roots, is present in the soil. However most of these plants are non-native species.
Download a list of plants intolerant to juglone
For more information on plants intolerant to juglone visit this website or call OMAFRA at 519-826-4047.
Please consider planting your non-native plants in containers or raised beds with protective bottoms to mitigate the effects of the juglone rather than removing Black Walnut trees from your yard.
This is what renowned Canadian botanist and scientist Diana Beresford-Kroeger has to say about this important species.
The Black Walnut – King of the Forest
From a Presentation by Diana Beresford-Kroeger
Family members of the Walnut are the aristocrats of the forest. Every aspect of these trees is fascinating. North America has seen them come and now we are silent witnesses to their passing.
The natural enemy of the Walnut is a deep and profound ignorance about these trees in our population.
Walnuts set the ancient history of North America. They were the kingpin trees against famine, the scourge that has always haunted this continent. The trees were owned by the aboriginal peoples independently of the land on which they grew. Such advanced thinking was crucial for survival on a continent rife with abrupt changes in weather patterns.
Walnuts produce nut meats. Pound for pound they are equal to steak in food value. The ratio of essential fats they carry is perfect for the brain development of the very young and old. These fats also protect the functioning heart. These high quality fats are essential for healthy cell functioning and are quite rare in the plant world.
The nut meat of the Black Walnut is in itself unique. The chemistry of the protein is very stable. It does not change in taste when it has been processed unlike most other nuts. This puts the black walnut first and foremost in the world nut market. There simply are not enough of them grown, the demand is increasing without a corresponding increase in supply.
Probably the most singular aspect of the Walnut family is their ability to manufacture a biochemical called ellagic acid. This chemical acts like a fisherman’s net and can snag the most toxic elements of fossil fuel combustion out of the air. They detoxify these killing compounds into something quite harmless. So they are important for the urban forest especially around day care centres and schools (and roads).
In the end, it is something else that Walnuts do which should attract the attention of the world. The ellagic acid complex offers an ambient protection to breast cancer. It comes in an explosive form from epidermal microscopic hairs called trichoma. There could also be some other secretary tissue within the leaves’ mesophyl and on the surface of the nut husks.
There is so very much more we need to know about this very important species.
Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a renowned Canadian botanist and scientist with expertise in medical biochemistry, organic chemistry, and nuclear chemistry. Her book Arboretum America is available at Guelph Public Library or The Bookshelf.