|Photo courtesy of: sedaetically.edu.ms|
Cabling and bracing, the most common type of structural aid for trees, involves the installation of cables and anchors. By connecting a split or overgrown branch to another stronger branch, that once precarious limb can continue to thrive. Think of cabling and bracing as an alternative to pruning. By keeping the structural integrity of the tree sound without sacrificing the canopy, the man-made hardware allows trees to flourish in confidence.
This is great news to devoted OSU personnel as they have banned together to become a “Tree Campus”. The honorary recognition, awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation, is given to universities who have developed ways to foster tree preservation on campus. Current Tree Campus USA recipients have made a concentrated effort to connect with the community beyond campus borders, adopted learning opportunities for the student body, and encouraged urban forestry efforts. Most importantly, these universities have well-managed tree populations, which are realized by conducting tree inventories.
OSU could be next on the list of universities with this honorable mention. With the help of software programs such as Google Earth and i-Tree, students are able to map the landscape of their campus and inventory what type of trees there are and the quantity. Not only does this inventory help recognize OSU as a Tree Campus USA, it allows students to evaluate the importance of trees in urban areas. It’s a learning experience that is constructive to the local ecosystem.
Tree cabling is recommended for trees that require additional support – typically heavy hardwood trees like the ones on OSU campus. Additional structural bracing helps poorly structured trees from breaking under the weight of snow and ice in frosty Ohio winters. However, there are two types of cabling that
Dynamic cabling allows trees to sway naturally in heavy winds by connecting branches to other branches instead of to the trunk. The tree is still able to strengthen itself over time and compensate for previous weaknesses. Dynamic cabling also uses less invasive hardware to avoid harming the tree bark.
Static cabling is used with more severe structural damage. Limbs that are splitting or cracked can lead to catastrophic failure without installing hefty hardware directly into the tree. For that matter, many balk at this method because it involves permanent bolts that pierce the entire branch, which interferes with the tree’s natural fortification of the tissue.
Whichever method is adopted to strengthen the trees on OSU campus is up to the tree service company they call, but they both offer benefits in the long run. Cabling and bracing prevent failure in trees with structural weakness that are otherwise healthy, restore damaged limbs that would otherwise be removed, and mitigate hazardous collapses and premature removal of the entire tree.
With the football season in high step, Ohio State University is busy achieving other goals unrelated to the playoffs. The OSU buckeyes have a much more universal benchmark involving their campus and the trees therein. Let’s hope for the sake of the environment that they make rank.