A branch from an historic tree in the Brook was lucky not to hit any children walking home from school, says an onlooker.
Tracey Royal-Malone was walking her two children and a friend from Nelson Central School to their home in the Brook when they came across a broken branch moments after it crashed across the footpath they were walking along and into a neighbouring property on Seymour Ave. The Nelson City Council-owned tree has since been cut down and it says it is concerned at how a gust of wind was able to bring down a several hundred kilogram branch. “Yes of course the council is concerned. A lot of effort goes into managing our street and heritage trees but it is always a difficult process managing a mature tree population in a urban environment,” says manager of communications Angela Ricker.
Tracey says it’s only due to good luck that they weren’t any closer at the time.
“Usually the boys would ride ahead on their scooters but a gust of wind took my hat off my head so they waited until I’d found it in a neighbours front yard. If I hadn’t taken that extra few minutes to find my hat the boys may well have been right under that branch when it fell.”
She says neighbours came running out of their homes after the branch crashed down and other parents said they heard the crack as it came down. “You just don’t know where you would have been at the time if we’d just kept on walking instead of stopping to get my hat. It’s pretty scary.”
NCC says a branch that size falling isn’t a regular event but it can happen in certain circumstances. “It was a combination of the age of the tree and the force and direction of the wind. There had been no external signs of decay or damage to the tree but there are signs of internal decay which have weakened the limb. This decay has only become visible since the limb fell so it couldn’t be predicted,” says Angela.
Council-owned heritage trees are surveyed every two years for a health assessment. The council is currently adding all the street trees in Nelson onto the GIS database which will be “a useful tool” for keeping an eye on the age and condition of the trees.