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NPAACT Home > News Items > Beware of falling gum trees in summer heat, arborists warn

Beware of falling gum trees in summer heat, arborists warn

24-January-2006


John Thistleton, Canberra Times
Tuesday, 24 January 2006

Arborists have renewed warnings about the danger of falling gum tree limbs after a 15m-long specimen snapped from its trunk and crashed on to a parked car in Forrest yesterday.

Ducane Street resident George Edwards heard the scribbly gum limb crash about 2.20pm and after inspecting the damage phoned an acquaintance, Kellie Waddell, who works in a nearby law firm, to tell her the bad news.

"Are you fit and strong?" he asked, before advising her that her silver-grey Holden Astra, one of dozens of cars in the street, was under the fallen limb.

Workmen clearing the street afterwards said they were often called to such incidents when the temperature rose above 30 degrees, because big gums were more likely to drop their limbs in the heat.

Among those surveying the damage afterwards was former Australian National Botanic Gardens director and consulting arborist Robert Boden who said the limb might have decayed at the junction with the trunk.

Dr Boden said there was such a thing as "summer branch drop", but that tended to affect horizontal limbs, not a junction branch like this one. Mr Edwards said the neighbourhood gum trees were dropping their limbs all the time and were inappropriate for the street and gardens.

A landscape gardener working on Mr Edwards' property, who would not be named, said he had often witnessed falling tree limbs, sometimes causing extensive damage to any structure underneath.

Latham resident John Sainsbury said a family with two young children was lucky to escape serious injury when a gum tree fell on two cars in Stamford Street, Mitchell, a week ago.

"The family was in a business ready to return to their car when the gum tree fell," he said.

About three weeks ago another gum tree had fallen on a car in Southern Cross Drive.

Mr Sainsbury said gum trees were dangerous and did not belong in urban areas.

Urban Parks and Places has a database of Canberra's trees to manage maintenance.

Environment ACT senior policy officer Chris Golding said on average 1900 applications were received every year from Canberrans wanting to remove gum trees.

Last year 86 per cent of the 1812 applicants for tree removal were approved.

Arborists warn that branches can fall at any time and cars should not be parked under them.

 

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