Tree roots

Tree roots
Forest Measurement and Modelling.

The functions of tree roots are to provide anchorage and storage (large roots) and access to minerals and other elements in the soil (fine roots). The storage function is of primary importance in some species (e.g. mallees) where long and hash conditions or devastating fires make the presence of a pool of resources vital for tree survival. Thus measurement of the root mass may be important to determine the health and growth potential of the tree.

Tree roots can also be large accumulations of woody material. Thus, their size is important in determining carbon sequestration and carbon pool size.

Tree roots however are not always benign. The pressure exerted by roots as they grow can damage buildings, roadways and paths. Many urban centres spend millions of dollars erecting root barriers and repairing damage caused by growing roots.

Unfortunately, measurement of total mass of mature tree roots is difficult and rare. The mass of smaller, pot-grown roots is determined by washing away the potting material and direct measurement. The mass of the large roots for mature trees may be estimated by digging a trench around the tree and then pushing the tree over. Many of the major roots will stay attached to the pushed bole. These roots can then be detached and weighed.

[roots.htm] Revision: 6/1999