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O’Neill launches new Tree Safety Management Guidance

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Forestry Minister Michelle O’Neill has launched a new Tree Safety Management Practice Guide aimed at maintaining a safe environment for visitors to Forest Service woodland.

Publishing the document Minister O’Neill said: “Our forests are a vital community resource and recent research has indicated that there are approximately 4.7 million visits to Forest Service woodlands annually.

“People particularly enjoy visiting older woods with large trees, however these trees are particularly subject to threats from tree disease and the damaging effects of strong winds. So it is important that Forest Service implements a risk based, systematic programme of tree inspections to target trees in areas at greatest risk and ensure that actions have been taken to deal with the identified risks.

“We are publishing the Tree Safety Management Guide because we want to keep forest visitors informed about how they may be affected by our tree safety management activity. It is also a useful source of advice to other forest owners and managers with similar obligations.”

The Minister added that tree safety management does not seek to eliminate risk but to reduce it to an acceptable level. She said “People enjoy trees in what they regard as ‘natural’ or ‘unmanaged’ places and will accept a degree of risk because of the value they bestow and the pleasure they derive from visiting or participating in leisure activities in our woodlands.”

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