Baltimore City’s Proactive Pruning Program
The first thing people always ask: what is proactive pruning? It may seem like it’s a simple thing to explain, but surprisingly it can be a very complicated concept. Baltimore City’s Forestry Division currently bases their tree maintenance work on citizen complaints through the 311 system, which makes the current system a reactive one. The purpose of the Proactive Pruning Program is to be the complete opposite of this.
Instead of waiting for trees to need maintenance (pruning or removal), or the limbs/tree to fail, proactive pruning increases the health of the tree canopy and reduces the level of risk for structural failure. It’s not possible to completely eliminate risk, but it’s possible to reduce the level of risk. The Proactive Pruning Program is going to perform maintenance in all of Baltimore City’s 278 neighborhoods for a scheduled care rotation.
The Proactive Pruning Program targets whole neighborhoods for the pruning or removal of all trees greater than 5 inch Diameter at Breast Height (DBH). The trees are pruned according to the International Society of Arboriculture standards for the removal of deadwood, elevation, crossing branches, rubbing branches, etc. to increase the health of the tree itself, as well as the tree canopy as a whole. If the tree is determined to need removal, then that tree is removed before it can possibly cause complications.
Proactive Pruning decreases the number of emergency requests (downed trees, downed limbs, and broken branches in trees), as well as the number of citizen complaints for inspections, which results in fewer prunings and removals in the future. In a comparison of citizen complaint types over two one-year spans, six out of seven neighborhoods showed a decrease in the total number of requests, with one neighborhood showing no change in total number of requests for both years.
The overall goal for the Proactive Pruning Program is to reduce the number of emergency and citizen requests by being more proactive in our tree care maintenance instead of continuing with our current reactive system. This will help to reduce blocked roads and possible damages from fallen limbs and trees.
By Kristy Angstadt, Proactive Pruning and Contract Management