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ISA Certified Arborist Des Moines, Iowa
Tree Service Des Moines, Iowa
Tree Care Des Moines
Des Moines, Iowa
Arborist Des Moines, Iowa
Olson Tree Care

Arborist Tree Care​​​  

Arborist Chris Olson

Artificial Snag

        A Snag is a dead tree left standing while undergoing the process of decomposition. Artificial references the creation of one safely outside of the natural process. 


       Des Moines Tree Services have called this Artificial Snag a Wildlife Habitat Tree which is true, but the term Wildlife Habitat Tree only defines one area of benefit resulting from the Artificial Snag.

Arborist by Artificial Snag

The many benefits of an Artificial Snag.


- Biodiversity (thousands of organisms will flourish in and on the snag)

- Soil health (the mineralization process of decaying roots feeds the soil and increases microbial activity)

- Savings (it costs less to remove the dead tree)

- Reduction in the spread of invasive organisms.

- There’s also evidence that snags provide a suitable environment for volunteer trees. (Nurse logs)


The sooner The City of Des Moines, Iowa can educate society as to the benefits, the better off we will be. Currently the common viewpoint conveyed is that savings would be the only reason for an artificial snag creation.       


       Dead wood plays a very key role in the relationship between living organisms and their environment. Dead wood is an indispensable form of food, residence and a breeding ground for well over a tenth of all species on land, with each decay stage having its own flora and fauna. In addition, the process allows for nutrient translocation, passing from dead wood to soil and then back into the environment.        


       It was a joy for Olson Tree Care in West Des Moines, Iowa to create an Artificial Snag out of this dead green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) in a residential setting. After ISA Certified Arboriculturist analysis of the structure and identification with good species disposition, this dead tree was a deemed great candidate for Artificial Snag Creation.

Artificial Tree Snag
Tree Care Service Snag Creation
Artificial Snag

Are there and Best Management Practices for the creation of Artificial Snags?

       At the time that we wrote articles on Artificial Snags there was no Best Management Practices for the creation of artificial snags in Arboriculture although we do expect they will be developed soon. Tree workers run the race and the Industry Standards record it.


Recommended practices for Artificial Snags.


- ISA Certified Arborist Level 2 Tree Risk Assessment shall be done to determine structural and species profile candidacy.


- Level 3 analysis of soil structure should be done.


- Reduction of stems to various heights should be implemented to limit portraying the detrimental practice of tree topping.


- Biannual ISA Certified Arborist Inspection shall be done post creation.


- Habitat sign should be placed on snag to notify public.


- Root collar excavation should be done to create an unfavorable environment for fungal pathogens which may expedite basal decay.


- Hole creation to promote cavity users and the cutting of horizontal surfaces to promote open nesting and perching should be done.


- Transition from snag to a Wildlife Habitat Log shall be initiated when an acceptable level of risk has been exceeded. The creation of a Wildlife Habitat Log should be done in close proximity to the Artificial Snag site.

Wildlife Habitat

Is there concern of creating a brood environment for invasive insects?


       What would a Tree Service in Des Moines, Iowa do with the trunk log anyhow? 


       They couldn’t chip it, moving it and storing it could not be viewed as a benefit. The truth is that spread is not controllable and Tree Services in Des Moines, Iowa should be looking at what needs to be done to better simulate the natural processes of trees. There are over 55 million native ash trees in Iowa's forests that have died from EAB and all of them have become snags. It is the natural process and good for ecology.


Is there fire risk from Artificial Snag creation?


       The trunk of the tree is not a suitable fuel source. If the branches of the tree were left behind you would have a risk but that is not being recommended.


       How many Tree Services in Des Moines, Iowa have embraced the Future of Arboriculture?


       The Arboriculturist at Olson Tree Care Services guesses not enough. It is our hope to see Artificial Snags (wildlife habitats) everywhere in Des Moines, Iowa.


       Here are some FUTURE Industry Standards being developed for Tree Care in Des Moines, Iowa.


- Duplicate Natural Branch Failure and Wound Occlusion.

(No cutting right outside the Branch Protection Zone until Translocation of Resourses has occurred, which will coincide with Wound Occlusion at the time specific to the species)


- No more biomass removal.

(Removing tree parts is not a care technique. Aesthetics and Dendrophobia do not trump the benefits of Tree Vitality)


- No more tree spacing and selection fads.

(Over-plant to create effective climax communities and plant diversely for the future of Urban Forests)


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