Pruned trees to reduce falling branches

Large eucalyptus trees along Eros Way will be pruned this week.

Residents in Mitchell’s Plain are soon going to get some relief from fears that branches of large eucalyptus trees in the area will fall unexpectedly, putting lives or property at risk.

The City’s Recreation and Parks Department has appointed a service provider to lop the tops of the trees along Eros Way, starting this week.

The street has been identified as a pilot site to test the effectiveness of this pruning method in reducing the fall of branches without destroying the trees.

The trees targeted are a species of Eucalyptus gomphocephala trees, likely to have been planted in the early 1980s, during the “Greening the City” initiative.

There are many of these trees that line residential suburbs within Mitchell’s Plain. Regular methods of drop-crotch pruning have been used to trim lateral branches to keep street signs and lights clear, however, no cuts were made off the top, in accordance with the City’s tree maintenance standards.

As a result, the shape of the trees is visibly tall and narrow with no low hanging branches. The trees continue to grow upwards until branches are unable to hold their own weight and subsequently fall down during severe weather episodes.

“The City’s policy on tree management is that all trees are valuable and are only to be pruned for sound arboricultural or safety reasons.

“In August this year, a storm caused one of the trees in Eros Way to be uprooted and fall over, causing damage to three properties. Several consultants were appointed to assess the risk of other trees in the area and the recommendation was to cut the tops of the trees on the affected street as a pilot to test tree response and reduce safety risks. If proven effective, the method will be extended to other avenues where similar trees are deemed to be a safety hazard,” said the City’s mayoral committee member for community services and health, Dr Zahid Badroodien.

During the pilot project, 22 trees will be trimmed to the same height of approximately seven to 10 metres, which is as tall as an average street lamp post.

Pruning is generally conducted during cool winter periods, to reduce shock and loss of trees; however, an exception has been made on Eros Way following the safety incident. If the pruning is required on other avenues it is likely to be rolled out between May and September when conditions are more conducive to pruning.

“The safety of residents is our first priority. Although every effort is made to preserve the natural environment and protect trees, it’s important that any safety concerns that come about as a result of overgrown trees be resolved immediately,” said Mr Badroodien.

To log maintenance requests or report any emergencies related to trees, please email RP.enquiries@capetown.gov.za