A Hollow Existence: The Importance of Preserving Tree Hollows

A Hollow Existence: The Importance of Preserving Tree Hollows

26 December 2019
 Categories: , Blog

How old are the trees on your property? It might be nearly impossible to guess, but given the growth speed of a tree, a significant tree might have been there for a surprising amount of time, predating the construction of your home or even your entire neighbourhood. But still, it's a tree on your property, and sometimes they need to be pruned and lopped. Before you start making plans, you need to check to see whether the tree is living a hollow existence—as in, does it have a hollow somewhere in its trunk?

A Hollow Means You Have an Old Tree

How long do you think it takes a hollow to form? If you see one, you know that your tree is at least a centenarian. Small hollows form over the course of a century, and large hollows will take at least double that. So if you should spot a hollow, its size can give you a rough indication of the tree's age. But why do they matter?

Home for Wildlife

A hollow essentially creates a natural nest for birds and other forms of wildlife that is well-protected and difficult to replicate. If you remove the portion of the tree that has the hollow, you might be making some members of the local wildlife population homeless. This, in conjunction with the age of the tree, can place some restrictions on what you can do.

Protection Orders

Older trees and trees of a significant size are often under a protection order from your local council, even when they happen to be on private property. Though some pruning and lopping can be permitted as general maintenance, some forms of resizing are prohibited unless you can make a case that the health and general well-being of the tree might pose a risk to surrounding property. For instance, you might be concerned that the tree is in danger of shedding some of its upper primary branches.

Preserving the Hollow

If permission is granted, contact a professional tree lopper. In order to preserve the hollow, they will only remove sections of the tree above this section, ideally leaving enough smaller branches and foliage so that the tree will be able to retain its look, albeit at a more suitable size. 

Given the sheer amount of time it takes for a hollow to form, along with the importance of the hollow for local wildlife, it's important to take this into consideration when pruning and lopping your trees.