Natural target pruning is the method used to make a correct pruning cut, allowing the tree to heal the wound as quickly as possible. The wound made by natural target pruning will heal at a greater rate because the wound is as small as possible and with the minimum amount of deadwood. The best way to conduct natural target pruning is to find the branch collar and then make the cut just outside it, making sure the cut is not too far away that it will leave a stub. The branch collar is found at the base of the branch, where the branch starts to round out due to it being connected to the trunk or limb. The branch collar should never be damaged or compromised at all. Located above the branch collar, protruding from the top of it is the branch bark ridge. This is a small swelling of the bark where the branch meets the trunk. This should also be left intact. A branch should never be pruned all the way back flush with the stem. If this is done and the wound takes longer to heal, it increase the possibility of pests and diseases successfully attacking the tree with a possible outcome of tree fatality.
By reducing the size of the canopy in any way, from pollarding to target pruning, you create less of a sail for the wind. Most trees are catered to deal with the wind and as they grow and are buffeted by the wind, they actually strengthen against it. However, if they are protected from the wind they don’t put on this strength. If they are then suddenly exposed, such as other trees around it being felled, they are not strong enough to deal with the wind and this can cause parts of the tree or the whole tree to come down. Reducing the sail does not guarantee stopping this but greatly improves the trees chances. This is especially important if a tree is in close proximity to buildings or public highways.