Winter Safety and Protection for Trees

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winter safety emergency tree teams

As the winter season arrives, cities around the world need to prepare for several challenges, including tree-related emergencies. Such issues can cause severe damage to infrastructure, properties, and even pose a threat to human lives. To ensure public safety during such emergencies, the Recreation and Parks Department of the City has created teams of experts equipped to handle any tree-related problems that may arise during the cold season.

The Emergency Tree Teams

The emergency tree teams consist of trained horticultural staff and machinery operators who are always prepared to address any tree-related issues caused by harsh weather conditions. They are experts in handling dangerous trees, removing fallen branches, and ensuring that everyone and everything around them is safe. During their regular hours, these professionals work on maintaining the parks, verges, and greenbelts across the city.

Responsibilities of the Teams

The primary responsibility of the emergency tree teams is to focus on trees that have fallen or caused damage to public buildings and property. If trees on private property have fallen and obstructed public roads or facilities, the team will take measures to secure the area and clear the path. However, the property owner is responsible for the cost of cleaning up tree debris.

Recent Incidents

In May, the standby teams attended nine incidents involving fallen trees that caused damage to infrastructure or blocked roadways. Areas such as Pinelands, Vredehoek, Camps Bay and Bishopscourt witnessed the highest number of tree-related incidents. One recent example occurred when a 12-meter pine tree fell, obstructing traffic on Philip Kgosana Drive into the CBD. The City’s Traffic Service closed the road as teams worked diligently to remove the debris.

The Role of Councillor Patricia Van der Ross

Councillor Patricia Van der Ross, Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, expressed her gratitude for the team’s critical role in ensuring public safety and addressing potential risks. She also highlighted the impact of fallen trees on traffic and power lines and urged residents to do their part in reducing tree emergencies this winter.

Tips for Residents

To reduce tree emergencies this winter, residents can conduct tree inspections, prune trees, and be vigilant about the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB), an invasive pest that poses a significant threat to many tree species in Cape Town. Residents should have the City’s emergency number on hand and let the horticultural teams continue their diligent maintenance and inspection work to address any hazards.

Reporting Tree Emergencies

Tree emergencies should be reported to the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre by dialing 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline. However, this line should only be used in cases where lives or properties are at risk, not for routine maintenance.


Winter brings with it a set of challenges for cities, but with the right preparation, we can ensure safety and protection from tree emergencies. The emergency tree teams and horticultural staff are always on standby to address any issues that may arise, and residents can play their part in reducing tree emergencies by following the tips mentioned above.

A Russian-Spanish journalist and Cape Town native, channels his lifelong passion for South Africa into captivating stories for his local blog. With a diverse background and 50 years of rich experiences, Serjio's unique voice resonates with readers seeking to explore Cape Town's vibrant culture. His love for the city shines through in every piece, making Serjio the go-to source for the latest in South African adventures.

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