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MIS308 – Tree Pruning (Non-Member Price)

A Minimum Industry Standard for Tree Pruning


This document covers the work task of tree pruning, including a brief summary of the underpinning knowledge necessary to select and perform suitable pruning operations to achieve a variety of objectives. This document is not a ‘standalone’ document, and must be read in conjunction with other Minimum Industry Standards which describe safe arboricultural work practices.


About the MIS Series


This book is one in a series of Minimum Industry Standards (MIS) produced by Arboriculture Australia Ltd and the New Zealand Arboricultural Association in consultation with the national arboriculture community in both countries. These industry peer-reviewed documents provide a ‘body of knowledge’ which is shared by practitioners and can be used as the basis for training, dissemination of skills and professional development.

MIS308 – Tree Pruning (Non-Member Price)

  • Pruning trees 

    Introduction to tree pruning

    How to use this Minimum Industry Standard 


    1: Pruning considerations 

    Tree health considerations 

    The tree as a living organism

    Tree species

    Foliage retention: loss of photosynthetic material 

    Tree growth habits 

    Pruning impacts: physiological impacts 

    Compartmentalisation and barriers to decay 


    Age and health of tree 

    • Pruning objectives by age class 

    Biosecurity and transmission of pathogens 

    • Examples of transmissible tree diseases 

    Timing of pruning operations 

    Tree structural considerations 

    The tree as a biomechanical structure 

    Axiom of uniform stress 


    Strategy of flexibility 

    Foliage distribution 

    • Foliage distribution: torsional failure 
    • Foliage distribution: mass damping 
    • Foliage distribution: interconnectedness and environmental exposure 

    Growth habit and structure 

    Branch and stem attachment 

    • Strength of branch and stem unions 
    • Co-dominant stems 
    • Crossing or rubbing branches 
    • Natural bracing 
    • Epicormic shoots 

    Ecological considerations 

    The tree as a keystone structure 

    The ecological value of deadwood 

    Retention of habitat 


    2: Pruning operations 

    Pruning specifications 

    R: Reduction pruning

    Crown reduction

    T: Crown thinning 

    AC: Asset clearance 

    Asset clearance: vegetation management around electrical conductors 

    Vegetation management around utility infrastructure 

    C: Crown lifting 

    RA: Risk abatement pruning 

    Risk abatement pruning practices 

    D: Deadwood removal 

    • Retaining deadwood in mature and veteran trees 

    WR: branch or stem weight reduction 

    • Weight reduction: thinning 
    • Weight reduction: reduction pruning 
    • Pruning classes for weight reduction 
    • Weight reduction pruning techniques 

    H: Remedial pruning 

    RT: Retrenchment pruning 

    Developing a retrenchment plan 

    Example retrenchment pruning plan: exotic species 

    Example retrenchment pruning plan: typical Australian species 

    F: Formative pruning 

    SP: Structural pruning 

    ER: Epiphyte / parasite and vine removal 

    P: Pollarding 

    PP: Palm pruning 

    Poor pruning practices 

    Lopping and topping 

    Flush cutting 

    Wound painting 


    3: Conducting pruning 

    Tree pruning permits and tree protection laws 

    Tools and equipment for tree pruning 

    Biosecurity measures 

    Clean On / Clean Off procedure

    Tree access for pruning 

    Making pruning cuts 

    • Bad working positions 
    • Good working positions 

    Pruning cut sequence 

    • Cut sequence and branch behaviour 

    Pruning cuts 

    Branch reduction cuts 

    • Examples of incorrect branch reduction cuts 

    Stem reduction cuts 

    Branch removal cuts (living branches) 

    Branch removal cuts (deadwood) 

    Fracture pruning and coronet cuts 

    • Fracture pruning 
    • Fracture pruning techniques 
    • Coronet cuts 
    • Coronet cut techniques 

    Root pruning 

    Completing tree works

    Processing debris 

    Completion of works 

    The care of trees

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