Why is root DNA testing such a useful tool when undertaking airspade investigations?

DNA testing to establish the tree roots origin
Photo Showing “Window” Cut Through The Tarmac Driveway To Remove Root Samples In Order To Establish Their Origin

When undertaking Airspade investigations to identify and locate the rooting areas of trees in relation to construction or development planning it is really important to know what you are actually looking at. Below we will look at a couple of common examples where we use DNA testing to establish the tree roots origin.

Example 1:

There are 2 trees located close to each other on the development site, a leylandii that is scheduled for removal and an atlas cedar that is to be retained throughout the construction process. Within the plans there is a requirement for part of the building to encroach into the RPA (Root Protection Area) of the retained Cedar. Arboraeration would excavate a number of trial pits using the airspade to assess the amount of rooting, the size of roots, their depths and the significance to the trees overall health.

However in this example, if the investigations found roots, it may be difficult to establish whether they are coming from the Cedar to be retained or the Leylandii that is to be removed, this difference could mean being refused planning permission or having the scheme accepted. This is where DNA testing would come in; small samples of the roots would be carefully removed, packaged and analysed in a specialist lab to establish the species of tree they are from.

Example 2:

A client has a tarmac driveway that is being damaged by tree roots that are suspected to be coming from a neighbouring pine tree. Before the driveway is repaired the client wishes to have some mitigation measures put in place in order to stop damage in the future. In order to do this first we need to establish the origin of the roots before we can create a management plan.

In this example, we would excavate small windows into the damaged tarmac using an airspade and carefully take small samples for analysis in a specialist lab in order to establish the species of the roots. This enabled us to prove that the roots were indeed coming from the neighbouring pine trees, meaning we could specify the correct root pruning and root barrier installation prior to the driveway being repaired.

Obviously, there are many situations where root pruning is not required as it is obvious where their roots are coming from, however in some circumstances, it is a very useful tool to be able to use to prove the roots origin.

If you have any questions about DNA testing, Airspade investigations, or any of the other services that we offer then please do not hesitate to contact us!

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