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Do You Own A Home or Business?

That Makes YOU a Vegetation Manager, Too!

For some, the idea of a “Vegetation Manager” is either the lady at the greenhouse pushing petunias or the young clerk stocking the display bins in the produce department at the grocery store.  In reality, however, a vegetation manager is someone who works for a private business or one of the levels of government and is responsible for the flora their employer hosts on their property. We’re not talking about the guy who simply cuts the grass and rakes the leaves, but an individual who is knowledgeable about how trees, shrubs and groundcover may present liability risks and how to eliminate identified dangers.

What does that have to do with me?

Businesses and governments aren’t the only folks with greenery to manage. Everyone who owns property needs someone to be conscious of the issues regarding vegetation on their land; even home owners. The liability risk for a large corporation is not very different than from the individual who owns their own house, if a plant goes rogue and hurts someone.
An example of this may be an instance where a tree has visible rot that causes a limb to break off and fall, injuring some unlucky passerby. If it can be proven the landowner was aware of the rot or, more importantly, should have been aware of it, they may face legal action. The best way to prevent this liability exposure is to put on your Vegetation Manager hat and be proactive about all greenery-related dangers on your land. It is called using “due diligence.

Healthy Trees Are Also a Threat?

Trees, being stationery objects and fairly easy to outrun, are not often associated with danger. Hedges, bushes and other verdant growth are also not generally regarded as particularly perilous, either. However, all of these things can actually create legal nightmares.

Consider, for example, if a company or municipality has a tree that is allowed to become over-grown and obscure a traffic sign on a public street. If an accident occurs and one of the motorists claims he did not see the sign due to the tree, the owner of the tree may be on the hook for a sizeable legal bill.  Any greenery that impedes vision at vehicle intersections, railway crossings and other transportation corridors can come back to haunt whoever owns the foliage, if they fail to manage the vegetation properly.

Vegetation Managers to the Rescue

A competent Vegetation Manager is part arborist, part herbologist, part chemical engineer and part safety officer. It is their job to anticipate vegetation-related hazards and rectify them before tragedy strikes. Knowing best practices in foliage maintenance is also an important element of the job as there are right ways and wrong ways of doing practically everything.

There are, for instance, industry guidelines for such activities as:

  • using machinery for trimming green growth around electrical infrastructure,
  • handling  strictly controlled noxious weeds properly, such as Matricaria (mayweed) and their seeds, as specified by Alberta’s Weed Control Act,
  • choosing appropriate insect-safe herbicides, plant-safe insecticides, and other chemicals, as well as correct application techniques for specific situations,
  • understanding how to safely remove problematic tree branches without creating worse issues with multiple shoots taking the place of the single branch or doing lasting harm to the tree,
  • employing insecticides and herbicides in ways that reduce the possibility of these chemicals ending up in the wider ecosystem.

Even just scratching the surface, one can see the role of a Vegetation Manager is as complex as it is critical to health, safety and exposure to expensive litigation.  It has never been more important for property owners to have knowledgeable, capable staff involved in managing their vegetation or to become knowledgeable themselves.

Tell Me More!

To learn more about this vital field, please contact the Professional Vegetation Management Association for industry-specific information and access to training and accreditation, as well as a job board for those with certified vegetation management experience.