RVT Case 3 Beech

This 90’ tall Beech tree lost a very large secondary leader in the storms that happened in January 2005 and I was asked to look at it to determine if it needed to come out.

The previous image was taken after we had removed the fallen sections but before any climbing repairs were undertaken.

It had failed at a major fork in the trunk 2/3 of the way up which left the remaining leader exposed to the prevailing winds from which it had been wind shaded by the now lost leading branch.

On the positive side the damage did not affect the remaining leader and there was no sign of underlying decay in the wound, it was just the wrong, strong gusting wind for this tree.

As a result and even though this tree stands at the intersection of two country roads, I judged that for the time being at least, the tree could be retained as long as it had some of the windload reduced from the exposed remaining leader.

The tree had lost probably 20% of it’s foliage when it lost the leading branch and we were proposing to remove another estimated 25% in applying the RVT prescribed so there was no doubt that this tree would be stressed.

However, the overall plan was to repeat Reduction Via Thinning in 3 visits over say 20 years and in that time the intent was to effect a significant height reduction over that extended period by removing only small percentages of the foliage in three pruning events over that time.

This meant a race was on to gradually reduce the tree while maintaining its vitality and reducing the size so that by the time the large wound left by the blown out leader developed decay (as it almost certainly would), there would be little branch structure left above the decaying cavity.

So it was reduce it or remove it, so as the client likes this tree, and with the possibility that over 20 years we can modify it’s size and shape, and do so sympathetically so that the tree can be retained indefinitely, they decided to prune and not remove.

Complicating the plan is that Beech has limited ability to generate adventitious buds so you have to prune the periphery and by punching big holes in the outer canopy, allow light to penetrate the middle so as to reanimate branches in the process of being suppressed so as to replace lost leaf within the canopy.

The regeneration of leaf within the canopy will facilitate further peripheral pruning while maintaining adequate leaves to produce the products of photosynthesis which is the fuel for cell division, growth and physiological processes like defence.

I prepared pruning diagrams and modified some images to show what the outcome might look like after for the client and then to also guide the climbing team.

This image has red lines indicating to approximately where the climber and groundsman would try to prune the tree.


In this image the sections of branch beyond the prescribed pruning points have been digitally removed to predict the shape of the tree once finished.

The finished result with the specified branches removed. March 2005.


This is how it looked at the beginning of May 2005.

This image was taken in August 2011. I hope that it is obvious what the size and shape of this tree will be after 2 more RVT’s of approx 20%. That might take another 16 years but the tree has created the fallback position that we will be revealing.