In recent years, there has been increasing concern over the risks posed to the public by falling trees and branches. A relatively small number of accidents involving fatalities and serious injuries have been prominently reported in the media. There have been a few high profile criminal prosecutions and civil cases arising. Yet the risk of injury to the public remains extremely low, and only a very small percentage of these incidents have occurred on the waterways.
Although trees provide numerous benefits which enhance the attractiveness of waterways they can bring with them a number of significant hazards which need to be managed. These include:
- Damage to waterway structures
- Obstruction of navigations, reducing safe navigable width
- Obstruction of boaters’ sight-lines, heightening risk of collisions
- Causing injuries or immersions on boats passing through low overhangs
- Exacerbating drowning risks to persons in the water
- Severe injury or damage caused by falling trees or limbs