Radar "can save costs caused by street tree roots"

Ground penetrating radar (GPR) can enable tree managers to monitor the roots of street trees, helping to avoid pavement cracking and lifting and hence the cost of pavement repair or tree removal, according to an Australian study.

Image: Sydney Oats (CC BY 2.0)
Image: Sydney Oats (CC BY 2.0)

The study, by researchers from University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, used GPR to evaluate three different prototype permeable pavement designs in reducing pavement damage caused by roots of the native broad-leaved paperbark tree (Melaleuca quinquenervia), both in a simulated test environment and in the field.

"The initial test results were positive for all three prototype pavements and indicated that this technique could be used to reliably determine tree root size and depth under pavements with minimal error," the researchers say.

"The study has shown that GPR may play an important role in tree root identification in future, and improve pre-emptive trip hazard reduction management."

They also suggest: "Increasing permeable pavement sub-base depths may also lead to less pavement damage by tree roots thereby preventing future trip hazards and avoiding costly repairs."

The research is published in the journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.

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