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Guide to Tree Felling: Process, Essential Tools and Safety Precautions

guide to tree felling

Trees are essential to our ecosystem and offer many advantages to people because of their majestic beauty and towering presence. Through photosynthesis, they act as the planet’s lungs, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Trees also help combat climate change by sequestering carbon, reducing air pollution, and providing shade that cools the surrounding areas.

Studies have shown that spending time in nature, including among trees, has a positive impact on mental health, reducing stress and improving overall well-being. Furthermore, trees support a variety of wildlife species by providing food and habitat, which helps to conserve biodiversity.

Recognizing their significance, laws and regulations have been established to protect trees. Conservation organizations work tirelessly to preserve and restore forests, and governments implement measures to ensure sustainable forestry practices.

Understanding Tree Felling and Its Process

Tree felling is a practiced and deliberate process of cutting down a tree, which is different from a fallen tree that occurs naturally due to factors like disease, storms, or old age. Although trees are vital for the environment and human life, there are situations where tree felling becomes necessary.

Careful planning and execution are required when felling trees. According to Husqvarna, successful tree felling involves six steps: planning ahead, checking the felling direction, pruning the trunk, deciding on the cutting technique, checking for diseases, and choosing the appropriate tool.

Moreover, the process can be completed by various means, such as using a chainsaw, a handsaw, or a felling axe, depending on the size, felling direction, and location of the tree.

How to Predict the Falling Direction in Tree Felling

The six steps to successful tree felling involve:

1. Planning Ahead

This includes understanding the area around the tree and identifying potential hazards.

2. Checking the Felling Direction (Predicting the Falling Direction)

The natural lean of the tree, the shape of the tree, and wind direction can help predict the way a tree will fall. Trees tend to fall in the direction they lean. Moreover, branches that are heavier on one side can cause the tree to fall in that direction. The wind direction can also influence the falling direction of the tree. However, a professional arborist should make a proper assessment to ensure accuracy.

3. Pruning the Trunk

Removing lower branches from the trunk ensures a safer work area and makes it easier to make precise felling cuts.

4. Deciding on the Cutting Technique

The size, species, and lean of the tree determine the best cutting technique. Professionals often use techniques such as the open-faced notch, the conventional notch, or the Humboldt notch.

5. Checking for Diseases

It’s crucial to check for diseases or decay in the tree as these can affect the strength of the tree and the felling process.

6. Choosing the Appropriate Tool

The tool for felling depends on the size and location of the tree. Common tools include chainsaws, handsaws, or felling axes.

Why Trees Need to Be Felled

There are numerous reasons why tree felling may be required. Common motives include:


Trees that are dead, diseased, or damaged can pose significant risks to people and property. Felling these trees prevents potential accidents and ensures public safety.

Hazardous Locations

Some trees planted too close to buildings or power lines can cause damage or disruptions. In such cases, felling becomes necessary to mitigate potential risks.

Infrastructure Development

Urban expansion and infrastructure projects sometimes require the removal of trees to make way for roads, buildings, or utility lines.

Disease Control

As part of the planning process, checking for diseases is essential. Diseased trees can potentially infect other trees around them, hence the need for felling.


Sometimes, trees are felled to improve the landscape or view, especially in residential and recreational areas.

Essential Equipment for Tree Felling

To ensure the task is completed safely and effectively, felling trees is a task that requires specialized equipment. The list of tools required can vary depending on the size and location of the tree, as well as the specific method of felling used.

Specialized equipment is needed to ensure the safe and effective completion of tree felling tasks. The necessary tools can vary based on the size, location of the tree, and the specific method of felling used. Here’s a list of essential equipment for tree felling:

  1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): This includes helmets, safety goggles, gloves, and chainsaw-resistant clothing to protect the body from potential hazards.
  2. Harness: Used to secure the arborist when working at heights, providing support and ensuring safety.
  3. Rope: Often used in conjunction with the harness, ropes are essential for climbing and securing the arborist during the felling process.
  4. Prussic or Friction Hitch: These devices are used to control the rope during climbing operations.
  5. Karabiners: Used to quickly and reversibly connect components, these are metal loops with sprung gates. 
  6. Lanyard: A lanyard or a work positioning rope helps an arborist work in a tree with both hands free.
  7. Chainsaw Strop: This piece of equipment is used to attach the chainsaw to the arborist’s harness, preventing the chainsaw from falling.
  8. Hand Saws: Hand saws are multipurpose instruments for pruning smaller trees and branches.
  9. Pruners: Pruners are used for trimming smaller branches.
  10. Pole Saws: Pole saws make it possible to cut branches at higher altitudes without having to ascend.
  11. Tree Loppers: These tools are used for pruning twigs and smaller branches.
  12. Axes and Wedges: Axes are used for chopping wood, while wedges help control the direction a tree will fall.
  13. Wood Chippers: Once a tree has been cut down and disassembled, wood chippers help dispose of the wood more efficiently.
  14. Chainsaw: The chainsaw is a key tool for an arborist, used for everything from cutting down trees to cutting up fallen ones.

Ensuring Tree Felling Safety

Tree felling can be a high-risk task, but adhering to the right safety precautions can significantly minimize these risks. The following are some crucial safety precautions that need to be followed:

Risk Assessment

Before starting any tree-felling operation, conducting thorough risk assessments is essential. This includes identifying potential hazards such as dead limbs, loose branches, and the proximity of power lines.

Training and Certification

Adequate training and certification for personnel involved in tree felling is crucial. This ensures that individuals are aware of the best practices and can handle equipment properly.

Equipment Maintenance

Equipment should be used correctly and maintained on a regular basis to guarantee peak performance and lower the risk of accidents. 

Establishing Clear Escape Routes

It’s important to establish clear escape routes and maintain a safe distance from the falling tree. This provides a safe retreat path should anything unexpected occur.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Wearing appropriate PPE is necessary to protect against potential hazards such as flying debris, falling branches, and noise exposure.

By adhering to these safety protocols, individuals can mitigate danger and carry out tree-felling operations with a reduced risk of injury or property damage.

In conclusion, even though trees have many advantages, there are situations in which cutting down trees is required. Understanding the process, utilizing the right tools, and prioritizing safety can ensure that tree felling is carried out responsibly, with the utmost consideration for both humans and the environment.


  • Diane Silva

    Diane is a travel enthusiast, content creator, and master storyteller, capturing her adventures through captivating blogs and engaging vlogs. With a passion for the great outdoors and a love for literature, she brings a unique perspective to the travel world. Whether she's exploring hidden gems or discussing the latest trends, Diane is your go-to source for all things travel and beyond.