Mechanical Damage

Image of mechanical damage

Mechanical damage refers to the physical injury of a tree and is a term usually reserved for those injuries caused by people or animals. Woodpecker feeding sites, deer rubs, and beaver and rodent feeding are some examples, but people tend to be far more destructive. Examples of human caused mechanical injury include weed-eater and lawnmower damage, root injuries, nailing objects to trees, tying ropes around the stem or branches which eventually girdle the tree, pruning, equipment impacts during logging or construction, and acts of vandalism such as name carving or intentional girdling. Trees do not have the ability to “heal”; they can only compartmentalize injuries such as these. Repeated injuries or severe damage can lead to decay, disease, localized dieback, or even mortality. In most cases, mechanical damage is completely preventable, and requires little more than planning and preparation when using equipment around trees. For instance, mulching around trees eliminates the need to mow up against the stem; and the use of “bumper trees” along skid trails can minimize damage to valuable trees during logging operations.


Nathan Hoover

Forest Health Forester
(615) 289-7373

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