Trees are one of the most important forms of life on our planet. They are givers in nature. They provide us with ample oxygen, absorb CO2, stabilize the soil by keeping it intact, prevents floods, soil erosion, act as noise and pollution barriers, control the increasing temperatures, provides us with food, protects us with shelter-shade, gives life both directly and indirectly to the most important wildlife and living organisms including human beings.

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Existing trees on a site-plan © www.courses.showitbetter.co

And  isn’t it our duty and responsibility to save this wonderful creation of Mother Nature? Can we do our bit to avoid cutting down the trees and protecting them from further damage and destruction? Trees and other natural vegetation inculcate a balance in nature and protect us from nature’s fury. The impact of cutting down the trees might not deliver immediate damage to the environment, but the future holds adverse impacts that might be irreversible. 

It takes years to have a tree fully grown, but it takes seconds to cut it down to the ground. As architects/clients/users of a property or a site, are we discovering ways to avoid the cutting down of trees on our site?

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1. Site Planning/Zoning 

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Existing trees on a site-planning/zoning © www.courses.showitbetter.co

To begin with, on a macro-level, responsible site planning and zoning considering the existing location of trees on-site can avoid the unnecessary cutting down of trees. This not only results in generating interesting building forms that challenge the creative scope of architects and designers but also breaks the solid landmass area generating forms that integrate well into nature. Pre-construction land use drawings with multiple options to save the existing trees on site must be provided in order of responsibility.

2. Pre & Post Construction Tree Pruning

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Tree obstruction © www.wikihow.com

Trees are cut down to the ground only when they cause hindrance to the functions and activities on site. Therefore one of the smartest ways to avoid this problem is to regularly prune the trees and their parts, especially roots, branches, and foliage. Pruning of the tree roots that are expected to cause hindrance to the building’s foundation must be done prior to the excavation work. 

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Branch pruning © www.vintagetreecare.com

In further scenarios, if trees outgrow on the site during or post the construction, causing hindrance to the utilities or service lines, then instead of chopping off the trees, the best way to save a tree is to prune its branches and the excess foliage to certain height and width to avoid these scenarios in advance. 

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3. Up-rooting and Re-planting Technique

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Up-rooted tree, ready to re-plant © www.treespecialist.com

The last resort to save trees in cant and cases is to carefully up-root the entire tree along with its roots and replace it on the other part of the site with the help of external support machinery and expert guidance. This process might seem tedious, but it weighs way less when compared to the attempt of cutting down the trees for good. Though it might take a few extra days for the up-rooted tree to adjust to the new soil situation, it’s worth the effort in saving its life.

4. Integrating Trees in & Along with the Built form

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Colorado house integrated in and around the trees on-site © www.weburbanist.com

On a microscopic level, architects and designers are finding different ways to invite nature into the built form. Buildings built in and around the trees are undoubtedly taking the first place in creating unique recreational value and essence to the entire project. One of the most empathetic ways to save trees from cutting them down is to make them an integral part of our lives.  

5. Utilizing the Existing Trees in Landscape Design of the Site 

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Recreational tree climbing © www.commongroundadventures.org

Trees can be an interesting element of landscape design. Apart from the environmental benefits like temperature control, noise, and sound pollution on-site, trees act as a natural source of recreation. Many outdoor activities and functions can be designed in and around the trees. Starting from the tot-lots to parks to drive and walkways to seating to organizing events of nature, trees can be utilized in a number of ways on site. 

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This helps in improving the quality of life of the people by encouraging them to spend time outdoors, performing various activities that improve their physical and mental health. 

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Tree seating, recreational © www.thisoldhouse.com

6. Tree Protection Techniques

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Tree Protection Zone TPZ, © www.mrsc.vic.gov.au

Trees might not be a hindrance at present on-site and might not be cut ever again but, if not taken care of in advance, the existing trees on site might get affected during construction and can die gradually in time if not

taken care of. Hence, as we all know that prevention is better than cure, we need to follow certain rules when construction happens within proximity to the trees.    

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Tree Protection ©www.edmonton.ca

One of the major reasons to cut down the trees, in the long run, is because the preliminary care and protection of trees during the construction process on-site haven’t been taken care of. Therefore, effective measures like fencing and marking the Trees Protection Zone (TPZ) must be imposed to avoid the cutting down of trees on-site due to damage or decay control. 

7. Enforcing Tree Protection Laws

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©www.timesofindia.com

Strict rules and byelaws within all the situations and contexts of the site, concerning certain limiting exceptions, must be made clear to all the people, including the site owners, clients, users, architects, engineers, etc. Any violation of the presiding rules and regulations must be taken into strict consideration by the law. As a law-abiding citizen of any nation, this brings us to one of the most effective ways to avoid the cutting down of trees on-site by law and order.  

8. Bringing Social Awareness through Educating People

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Save trees ©www.centuryeco.in

Last but not least, educating clients and users about the enormous benefits of the trees on-site, starting from soil compaction to preventing rainwater stagnation to micro-level temperature control to noise and sound absorption to wind barriers to privacy to recreational aspect, trees provide abundant benefits to the environment and the mankind as a whole.

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The idea of not cutting down the trees on-site occurs when we find out the various ways of benefits, uses, and application of trees in site design. This adds up to trees not being an obstruction or hindrance on site. Hence, the activity of cutting down the trees can completely be avoided on the site. 

References 

https://gibneyce.com/14-read-about-trees-on-building-sites.html 

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https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/fabulous-ways-to-protect-trees-and-conserve-forests.php 

Author

An architect, academic & an aspiring writer. Anvitha believes architecture is a way of life & written communication acts as a medium in connecting people & architecture. Embracing the other side of her life, she loves travelling, cooking , singing , dancing & is dying to be a dog parent one day.

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