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During the recent storm event of ex-cyclone Debbie, many people found themselves with unexpected property damage as a result of fallen trees and branches. Trees that seemed healthy and secure, had become uprooted or had lost large branches. The clean up after ex-cyclone Debbie was huge. The event of cyclone Debbie raises important questions about tree safety and how we can better manage tree related damage from severe storms.

During ex-cyclone Debbie, the Sunshine Coast was lashed by high force wind and rain. And as a result, many properties on the coast where affected by the damage caused by fallen branches and uprooted trees. Since it had been several years since a storm of this force had hit the Sunshine Coast, there was a great deal of overhanging branches and deadwood that was left to be potential projectiles in the severely windy conditions. After the event of ex-cyclone Debbie, there were trees down over major roads, cutting off parts of the coast for several hours during peak hour. There were cases of trees taking down power lines in areas that were hard to access, causing parts of Buderim and Rosemout to be without power for close to three days. We at Tricky Tree Solutions were inundated with calls for help. There were properties where trees had blocked driveways or crashed into houses. Weeks on, and the clean-up is still underway.

After an event like this, we often get asked about the species of trees that are more likely to cause damage in a storm. While it is impossible to pinpoint exactly which trees will be most affected in severe storms, there are a few things you can do to minimise the potential damage caused by strong winds. Firstly, you can identify which trees are most hazardous. While tall gum trees are often the ones that drop branches, any tree can be a hazard in a severe storm. We often get asked if it is worth removing feature trees like old gums for the potential of property damage they pose. While we can't give advice about the likelihood of a healthy gum tree falling in a storm, we can advise that the aesthetic and environmental value of a feature tree far outweighs the slight risk they may pose in a storm. The key to living with large feature trees in safer way, is to always have dead limbs removed, to identify overhanging branches so they can be removed, and not to plant gum trees too close to dwellings. It is also important to NEVER TOP GUM TREES. They only grow back weaker and are a ticking time bomb in a storm. The best approach to minimising damage in a storm is to have your trees selectively pruned regularly. Have deadwood or overhanging branches removed. And move your cars and other mobile breakable things away from trees, and then find a safe place to shelter with family during the storm.


In the wake of ex-cyclone Debbie, I think we can all be grateful that, while there great property damage and inconvenience caused by fallen trees, there was no loss of life as a result of fallen trees. Essentially, it is impossible to predicts which trees or branches will fail in a storm. Yet the best solution is still to be storm ready, To be attentive to the potential threats in your trees, whether that be dead branches, overhanging branches or rot. And part of being storm ready is also moving things like cars away from large trees and finding a secure shelter for yourself and family in the storm.

 
 
This video is from a tree pruning and branch removal job earlier in the year. One of the greatest things about being an arborist on the Sunshine Coast is the amazing views. There are few occupation on the Sunshine Coast like being an arborist. You get to see the landscape from a different and often breathtaking perspective. One stand out thing that we notice often, is the density of our dry and wet forests. We are lucky on the Sunshine Coast to still have areas of densely growing trees that are protected by greenzones and National Park laws. It is up to us to look after the trees on the Sunshine Coast so our environment remains healthy for the next generation. This also comes down to understanding what trees are protected and what trees cannot be removed under your local council regulations. If you are unsure about whether your trees are protected by Sunshine Coast Greenzone regulations, you can find the Sunshine Coast greenzone map here
 
 
 
 
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This is the best time of year to prepare for the upcoming storm season. Don't wait until trees become dangerous. Be proactive and have them pruned selectively. Have rotting branches, deadwood or overhanging branches removed before the Sunshine Coast storms roll in.