A lot of people called the city yesterday about the construction damage at Woodland Park, and the city responded.
The city asked the contractor to remove vehicles from the park, and they appear to have done so to a degree. There is still a tracked vehicle parked next to one of the young beech trees. In this case, the city could only ask because it appears there is no tree protection plan written in to the contract.
This still does not resolve the issues. The soil has been heavily compacted (see pictures below). This will need to be dealt with. The preferred method is to reduce compaction with an air knife, which uses compressed air to fluff up the soil.
Construction damage is subtle and insidious. It sometimes takes years for construction damage to become apparent, because we don’t see much of the root system. Slowly, the weakened roots affect the crown leading to dieback and decline. Dieback is the loss of part of the canopy, especially at the top, and is not always, or even usually, fatal. Decline is the gradual deterioration of the entire tree, and often ends in death.
This incident is a symptom of a larger problem in this city and many others. The lack of firm rules about tree protection plans leads inevitably to abuse. Any city needs policies that
- Require tree protection plans for every construction project involving public money and/or on public land
- Tree protection plans must be written by a certified arborist with specialized training in construction protection
- The tree protection plan must be a required part of every bid package and contract involving public money. The language of the contract must specify penalties for incursion into the tree protection zone or other violations of the protection plan
- The contractor(s) must be trained by a certified arborist in carrying out the tree protection plan
- A certified arborist must inspect the construction site on a regular basis until the project is complete
- The Tree Protection Plan must contain a post-construction management plan to ensure that tree stay healthy
These are just some basic requirements for protecting trees during construction projects. Without them, our urban forest will continue to decline.
Here are some photographs showing the soil damage after the vehicles were removed. It may not look serious but it is – the soil is sufficiently compacted all around these trees to damage the roots, and without correction, this is a major stress factor.