Supporting Solution:

The Risk-o-Meter

  • progress:

Launching 2019


The perception that trees and plants pose unacceptable levels of risk is not true. 202020 Vision contributors agree that to overcome the perception of risk we need to understand the real nature of the risk and then communicate this well so that decisions are made based upon evidence and not on preconceptions.


Research is conducted (or sourced from the National Plant Database) to assess what level of risk a plant or tree poses – where a rating of one equals no risk, and a rating of five equals high risk.

Based on this rating, both residents and council workers are given options to help mitigate this risk. For example, if a resident is concerned about a large gum tree dropping limbs, they can take a picture and upload it to the database. This will prompt councils to make a visual assessment, or a site visit to assess the actual risk and decide on the best course of action.

The two-way dialogue between residents and councils helps streamline council maintenance efforts and reassures residents of real versus perceived risks.

In addition, information about the health, shade and aesthetic benefits – compared to the costs of removing a tree – may also be presented to better inform residents of the true value of trees and plants.


The Risk-o-Meter is a two-way platform that enables councils, residents, researchers and practitioners to better assess risk based on evidence.


Project for Public spaces in Dubai, The Getty Center, Los Angeles, Tree Risk Assessment section of the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Strategy


"The ‘Risk-o-Meter’ [is the solution that] excites me the most, but not in its current form. I like the focus on building the evidence base and this needs to include quantifying the positive, not just the negative, aspects of urban green space. It thus becomes more about objective assessment, which can inform conversations about risk, but enables an evaluation of the trade-offs that might be associated with particular decisions. Such a resource needs to be highly accessible, so people can zoom into their neighbourhood and learn about their urban green space.”"

Guy Barnett, CSIRO, ACT.

"Well done on the proposed tree Risk-o-Meter – especially with special care not to support common myths that certain tree species are high risk. Partnering with Arboriculture Australia should help steer this sort of thing on the right track – including the possibility of sourcing good quality tree failure data by setting up a national Tree Failure Database for arborists to provide input to."

Lyndal Plant, University of Queensland, QLD.

"For councils and State Governments the advantage of the tree insurance is that it isolates trees from other insurance needs and allows us to be more targeted in our risk assessment rather than including trees with every other risk faced by Governments, Local and State. This would reduce overall premiums of public liability."

Stephen Packer, Environment Protection Authority, SA.


Cassandra Brown, Gold Coast City Council, QLD. Julian Gray, Smart Approved Watermark, NSW. Merilyn Kuchel, GI Project, (BGSA). Robert Prince, NGIA, NSW. Steve MacDonald, RLOSAC. Amalie Wright, Landscapology, VIC. Kate Nairn, OEH, NSW. Pierre Quesnel, UDLA, WA. Russell James, TC Advantage. Stephanie, NSW. Paul Barber, Arbor Carbon, WA. Jen Guice, Penrith Council, NSW. Odile Pouliquen-Young, Curtin Uni, WA. Leanne Muffet, Strategic Matters, SA. Erin Harrison, EMRC, WA. Stephen Packer, EPA, SA. Gwilym Griffiths, Marrickville Council, NSW. Sharolyn Anderson, Uni SA, SA. Steven Wells, Austin Health, VIC.