March 2018 - Managing Wildlife/Dangerous Trees

Alert of the Month

Recent wildfires and beetle infestations have created large areas of dead and potentially unstable trees. What is the best way to manage the dangerous trees that could fall and hurt workers while keeping the valuable wildlife trees standing? Have a look at the following information for guidance.

Thanks to the Wildlife Tree Committee for the information in this alert.

What is a Dangerous Tree?

A Dangerous Tree is defined by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (section 26.1) to be any tree, live or dead, that is hazardous to workers because of:

For most forestry activities, a dangerous tree will be a tree that has been damaged by fire, insects, disease, weather or other disturbance.

What is a Wildlife Tree?

A wildlife tree is any standing dead or live tree with special characteristics that provide valuable habitat for the conservation or enhancement of wildlife. The special characteristics (known as habitat features) are often defects in trees that provide opportunities for wildlife that can include feeding, nesting, shelter, over wintering or hibernation, and perching.

The habitat features commonly observed include spike, fork and broken tops, cavities, loose bark, large platform limbs and brooms. Depending on their cause of death, specific tree defects and condition, and the type of work activity, some wildlife trees can be dangerous.

Levels of Disturbance and Training Required

Work activities can be classified by the amount of disturbance they create. The higher the disturbance level, the higher the chance of a dangerous tree breaking up and causing an incident. Activities that have higher disturbance levels require higher levels of training to assess and manage wildlife and dangerous trees.

Wind speed is an important factor when assessing wildlife/dangerous trees. When the wind speed increases, it may be necessary to stop work, or increase the Level of Disturbance category for the site which will increase the level of assessment required. Use the following table as a guide:

Most planning and survey work that is done on foot is in the “very low” level of disturbance category. The type of training that is required is a review of dangerous tree characteristics and wind shutdown criteria so crews can maintain their situational awareness and stay out of hazardous areas. Use the resources on the Wildlife Committee’s website for this information.

For many silviculture operations (Level of Disturbance 1), the full dangerous tree assessment training may not be required; having qualified person training may be sufficient. This training can be done in-house by an experienced dangerous tree assessor using the training materials found on the Wildlife Tree Committee’s website. Suspect trees with hazard indicators must be assessed and dangerous trees managed before work commences.

For most logging operations suspect and dangerous trees are often removed concurrently. However, it is advisable to have an assessment done prior to harvesting to identify valuable wildlife trees that would be safe to leave standing. Especially because some wildlife trees are protected by law. Remember, a full dangerous tree assessment is required if suspect trees are to be left standing within the work site.


  1. Wildlife Tree Committee Publications
  2. SAFER Dangerous Tree Assessment Video
  3. Dangerous Tree Assessment Training Information


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