Fire by hand drill

Fire by hand drill

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Removing branches from live trees...PROPERLY

Hi all,

Quite frequently in bushcraft we have to remove branches. I have often seen the results of people removing branches for craft use or what ever and leaving behind horrible ragged wounds which will struggle to seal.

I thought I would write a little bit about how to properly remove a branch from a live tree.


First some basic facts.

Trees do not heal, they seal. In other words they just cover wounds over with bark and callus wood.

If you leave a tree with a ragged wound it will be much much harder for the tree to seal it inviting infection by a pathogen or rot etc.

There are areas of the branch which are designed to produce sealing wood called the branch collar. It is a slightly swollen bit where the branch meets the main stem and is most noticable in hardwoods. If this bit is cut off by cutting the branch to close to the main stem then the tree will struggle to seal it.
A flush cut too close to main stem result in wound.
If you leave a peg this can also prevent the tree from sealing as you are leaving something in the door way.
Here is were you should make your cut.

The branch collar can then do its job and seal the wound.
Another problem is not making under cuts in branches before sawing them off. The end of a branch can be quite heavy and when you start sawing down the supporting wood is lost and the branch snaps off ripping a huge swathe of bark off the main stem with it. Simply making a cut underneath to severe the bark on the branch you are removing will prevent this and give the tree a better chance of recovery.

Of course this short guide is simplified and only covers small branches. Big limbs can be very dangerous indeed and you should really know what you are doing.

Cheers
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