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Reader's View: Use hammocks safely to protect trees

Trees are important for increasing biodiversity, enhancing air quality, cooling our communities, preventing erosion, buffering noise pollution, and stimulating tourism in our parks.

Fall is a wonderful time to appreciate nature, especially as the leaves begin to shed and change colors. One such way people enjoy the outdoors is through hammocking.

In most instances, hammocking is harmless to trees, but if hammocks are not set up properly, they can cause significant damage. For example, if hammock straps are too taut around a tree, the straps can carve into the trunk, removing the tree’s natural protective barrier. If bark is removed from a tree, it leaves the tree susceptible to diseases, insects, or excessive wind or sun exposure. Some individuals may even unknowingly attach their hammocks to branches that cannot sustain their weight, resulting in tree-branch loss and reduced tree foliage. Decreased tree foliage hinders a tree’s ability to absorb sunlight, thus impeding its food production.

Here are some ways you can ensure the safety of trees:

  • Avoid fastening hammocks to unhealthy, dead, or dying trees.

  • Wrap straps around the tree rather than pounding bolts or screws into the trunk.

  • Use wide straps instead of ropes or paracord.

  • Secure the straps to the thickest and sturdiest part of the trunk.

  • Select trees that are about 10 to 15 feet apart.

  • Once fastened to the tree, the hammock should be at a 30-degree angle.

  • At the hammock’s lowest point, it should be 18 inches above the ground.

  • Refrain from attaching multiple hammocks to a single tree.

Trees are important for increasing biodiversity, enhancing air quality, cooling our communities, preventing erosion, buffering noise pollution, and stimulating tourism in our parks. There’s no denying that trees are advantageous to our environment and our health.
We can continue to reap the benefits by practicing safe hammocking. Let us guarantee the health and well-being of our trees for future generations to enjoy.

Kyra Chapman

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Duluth

The writer is a parks planning intern for the city of Duluth Parks and Recreation Department.

Related Topics: TREESENVIRONMENT
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