Beware of dropping tree limbs

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Falling trees and branches are cause for concern this week, as hot temperatures and dry conditions continue.

According to Parks Victoria, trees and their limbs can fall unpredictably due to tree stress, brought about by extreme or prolonged periods of high temperatures among other causes.

Parks Victoria area chief ranger Andrew McDougall said many staff had reported ‘‘a marked increase in limb fall right across northern Victoria both in parks and along local roads with new limbs being observed daily’’.

‘‘Over my 15 years working along the Murray River I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to a camper who hasn’t heard a limb drop.

‘‘A limb the size of your finger can cause brain injury or death if it falls from a height, with many limbs weighing several tonnes.’’

Although many species of native gum trees are prone to dropping limbs, the river red gum could become deadly this long weekend, with camper numbers expected to exceed 20000 in the Yarrawonga, Barmah and Shepparton areas.

‘‘Red gum trees are known to drop more limbs than other Australian natives,’’ Mr McDougall said.

‘‘However, all Australian trees and some introduced species are known to drop limbs as a survival mechanism while other trees drop limbs due to increased weight in their crowns as the result of rain events and high temperatures.’’

‘‘Irrespective of the numbers of campers, campers always need to ‘look up and live’ and ensure that they check to see which way limbs are hanging or may fall and or where the whole tree may fall,’’ he said.

Mr McDougall said it was important for people to set up camps away from trees.

‘‘If campers look up and can see where limbs have dropped in the past then that’s an indicator that more limbs may drop in the future.

‘‘Campers need to be aware that limbs can swing out some distance from trees and look to camping outside the drop zone.’’