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BTC/86/2013 - Tree inspections: a simpler alternative to the present complication and confusion. The AA Arb Magazine (Autumn 2013)

A common source of arborist anxiety

At some stage in their careers, most arborists will make decisions related to tree safety. With this comes an inevitable anxiety that, despite their best efforts to get it right, something goes wrong and harm arises to people or property. In the UK, recent research ( has revealed that an average of six people a year are killed by tree failures, but that a further 55 may suffer serious injuries. An obvious consequence is that annually about 60 individuals and their families have to deal with the trauma of death or serious injury caused by trees.  Although the precise figure is unknown, my own caseload confirms that a significant proportion of incidents progress to civil legal actions, with the sole purpose of attributing blame and securing financial redress for the harm. If the failed tree was under any sort of management programme, then first in line for that blame is the inspecting arborist, which has the obvious potential to cause anxiety. In addition to the moral burden that their decisions may have harmed other people, there is the worry of financial consequences that can run into millions and the spectre of an unfavourable decision by the courts cutting short even the most promising of careers! It is no wonder that some arborists feel concerned, and that this intense psychological pressure encourages a ‘better safe than sorryculture, contributing to unnecessary tree removals.

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