Tree lightning protection systems (TLPS) are intended to provide a preferred point for lightning attachment and a preferred path to ground for lightning strike currents. The risk of lightning damage is a function of the probability of a direct strike to the tree and the expected damage to the tree resulting from the strike.
Susceptibility to lightning strikes is most related to tree location and size. Trees considered more susceptible to a direct strike include:
- Trees close to water
- The tallest tree in a group
- Trees that boarder woods or line a street
- Trees in local areas with a history of numerous lightning strikes
Systems should be installed by a qualified arborist with training and experience. The effective working life of a TLPS can be 50 years or longer. However, over time, the effectiveness of the system can be degraded by weathering, damage, and/or tree growth. TLPS’ should be periodically inspected and maintained.
A tree’s biological functions, structural stability, or both can be affected by lightning damage. Tree symptom development and survivability is affected by the extent of lightning injury.