Risk Vs. Reward

July 13, 2022 · 1 minute read
Risk Vs. Reward

If you take the time to read Urban Forest Dweller, chances are good that you would rather have a yard like the one shown in photo A instead of photo B (you only get two choices in this hypothetical scenario.)

Photo A
Photo B

Richmond would not be the same without its trees. We love our urban forest. Trees give us shade, clean our water, provide habitat, and give a lot of character to our neighborhoods.

Then storms come and we get a little afraid. Nobody wants their house to look like this:

We value our big trees, but we want them safe. Maybe you decide the right thing to do will be to hire an arborist. You will have your tree inspected. If your tree can’t be made safe, then it’s time to sadly cut it down.

Unfortunately, if you bring out a responsible arborist who knows risk assessment, you probably won’t hear the word “safe” from them. Given the right (or wrong) conditions, any tree can fail. The arborist can assess risk, and help to mitigate risk, but they can not eliminate risk.

The most safety-minded among us will think this means that every large tree within 100 feet of their house needs to be removed (150 feet if your trees are big.)

The most tree-loving of us won’t cut anything down unless there is an imminent risk of failure.  

The rest of us need to weigh the risk of having the trees, with the reward that they give us, and occasionally have the trees maintained to manage the risk at a low level.