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Fallen tree

This should be so easy for the FC, but for some reason we’d rather chop these kind of tree tops up for firewood. Connecting two or more trees with ropes or chains will add additional play value. ‘Replanting’ tree tops can create natural climbing structures.

How to build

  • Identify a suitable 50 year old hardwood, or the top from an older tree.
  • Fell, trying to avoid damage to limbs; use a crane if it is important to avoid damage. Relocate the tree to the position where it will be installed.
  • Elevate the butt on a bank or soil mound (as shown) to create some additional interest; it could be raised by placing one butt on a second butt or log. Remove bark from sections in contact with the ground.
  • Trimming the right branches is the tricky bit. Start by trimming branches that are too small to support your weight or might snap. Then selectively remove branches where there is a ‘V’ head trap, or where someone might fall from a high branch and land on a lower one. Chamfer the ends of cut branches so that they don’t present sharp edges or splinters.
  • Over time the bark will start to come off and present a slip hazard. When this happens, completely remove the This should be so easy for the FC, but for some reason we’d rather chop these kind of tree tops up for firewood. Connecting two or more trees with ropes or chains will add additional play value. ‘Replanting’ tree tops can create natural climbing structures. Fallen tree bark, cut a flat, narrow top and cross-etch with a chainsaw.
  • Over time, support branches in contact with the ground may begin to rot or move with seasoning. These will require regular inspection and possible removal to ensure stability.

Notes

  • Contact a play specialist to get help with trimming branches. 
  • Large tree tops have been successfully replanted at Westonbirt Exploratree and at Jeskyns in Kent. Whilst very effective these were difficult and expensive to implement due to the cost of sourcing, felling, transporting and placing large, heavy trees.
  • Refer to fall heights, falling space and entrapment in safety section of appendix.
Last updated: 8th March 2016

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.