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    • collection of my vids on youtube.
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    • Arborists get a lot of practice studying the crown, the upper tree. Studying the lower tree is less familiar, but the upper tree cannot stand without the lower tree, so it’s worth the time to inspect it carefully. I was privileged to chair the US subgroup that wrote Part 8 of the ANSI A300 Tree Care Standard, which covers trunk, flare and root inspection. I’d like to describe it to arborists in other countries, in the hope that their standards will someday adopt and perhaps improve upon it. I’ll also refer to the German ZTV standard, which inspired our work on inspection. The first requirement is for arborists to consider the owner’s goals in the light of what tree care can and cannot do, and establish the objective. The ZTV’s objective, “Provide maximum vitality health and safety of trees” is a good start but there may be other objectives to add, such as increasing wildlife habitat and shade. Once the owner and arborist agree, it’s time to write specifications – “a detailed, measurable plan or proposal for meeting the objective.”


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    • Ok lets see if we can all come up with one good usefull tip, should be a good usefull thread!
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    • After a 600 mile round trip it's goodbye Jensen (in Sept anyway) and hello Jo Beau. I've gone and joined the ranks of SWB and Andy Collins and the other mini chipper lovers on here!
      It seems that Fletcher Stewart has recently told Jo Beau to get lost re importing them further due to a silly price increase so I snapped this one up before it was too late. 40 hours on the machine and a fraction of the new price.
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      Recent Entries


      By David Humphries aged 48 and ¾


      I often read and see with great interest (and with more than a tad of jealousy), the various exploits of the host of climbers both young and mature that gallivant around the northern and southern hemisphere,  exploring & climbing some of the world’s oldest and tallest tree specimens.

      The majority of my own humble climbing career took place in and around London during the 1990’s when we were still battling both the tree and the climbing equipment to get up & into the canopy. 


      I moved away from climbing on a day to day basis into a supervisory/management role (something I’m starting to regret if I’m honest, as it was a bit too early) and have ended up as the Trees Management Officer for the City of London Corporation looking after the (20,000) tree population at one of London’s finest Open Spaces – Hampstead Heath.

      I continued climbing by playing around the rocky playgrounds of the south coast and cairngorms, but even that time came to an end due to family commitents.


      My interaction these days is more around the managing and organizing of climbing works on mature, veteran and ancient trees rather than clambering about them. Although I still get the itch to pull a harness on it seldom materializes and pretty much has become in reality something I used to do rather than something I actually do.

      So when an opportunity came knocking in 2009 to have a week of climbing in the Basque region of Spain to learn from and assess/measure lapsed ancient Beech pollards for a Conservation Arb project, I pulled rank and jumped the queue in the team (much to the annoyance of some of my colleagues) to offer up my rusty climbing skills for the cause. 

      I borrowed a tree motion and learnt a few (new to me) friction hitches to go with the hitch climber (again, new to me) to help me get back up amongst the leaves.

      The trip was organised by Helen Read (Ecologist/Conservation Officer at Burnham Beeches) It was part of an on-going European wide study she had undertaken looking at traditional and sustainable pollarding practices and an opportunity for a group of Ecologists and Arborists from the City of London, together with a couple of members of the Ancient Tree Forum, to climb, record and evaluate regrowth and failure of a number of trees that had been worked on three years previously using a trial of experimental pollarding techniques carried out by a collaboration of Spanish, Swiss and British Arbs. These techniques included using both axe and chainsaw and cutting the lapsed poles at various heights.





      The data would hopefully build a blue print of how and when to return very old lapsed pollards back in to cycle, to a state where vitality is enhanced and self-destruction via decay and biomechanical stress was mitigated.
      The Ecological importance of these trees continuing to be being maintained, both in mainland Europe and back here in the UK is considerable. They support the micro habitats of a vast range of fungi, lichen, invertebrates, mammal and avian life with many of these being the on Red data lists of threatened species.  

      The trees themselves were spread across large tracts of hill and lower mountain side on common pastures and traditionally used for domestic fuel or as wood for charcoal used in the coastal iron foundries. Some were also shaped to provide particular curves and forks which were used in ship building.




      Most UK pollards have been lapsed for over a hundred years but the pollards in the Basque have been more recently cut and there are still people around who remember how & when to cut them.

      Meeting one such local was a privilege and inspiration and has left me with a far deeper understanding of mans’ place in nature.

      We travelled down to the Basque country by train via Paris and spent a week between the two sites of Oieleku and Leitza.

      Stunning areas of natural beauty! My camera was never out of my hand.



      We had a little bit of R&R involving site visits fung’ hunting and imbibing the local fuel but were mostly focused on the task at hand.




      Splitting into teams of climber and recorders, we climbed the 40 pollards that were cut a few years before. Due to their history and nature they were not monster trees in any imagination, the majority being stumpy old gnarly things but a few were around the 50/60’ mark. The climbing was interesting

      as the roots and trunks were significantly decade and structurally compromised. We were also mindful not to break any of the newly formed epicormic and adventitious shoots. The old cut stubs were sometimes covered with a moss mat to protect them from the sun and drying out. Rock Lizards had made their homes under these and the loose bark and cavities had resident bats.



      We recorded and measured if the branches were alive or dead, number of eruptions of new shoots, length of extension growth from terminal bud scar and whether the stubs were showing callous, and how far below the dead stubs if there was any live cambium.


      The data was sent off for collating to a UK University and the findings were published in The Arboricultural Journal in January 2013.

      ‘Restoration of lapsed beech pollards: Evaluation of techniques and guidance for future work’

      Helen J. Read, Jeremy Dagley, Jose Miguel Elosegui, Alvaro Sicilia & C. P. Wheater

      Lots of variables, but if time, vigour and expense allow,
      then ‘gradual’ pollard restoration is the way to go. The less leaf area removed enables the trees to generate more energy and produce a better response from dormant shoots, leading to fewer pollards likely to fail and die.



      This was a fascinating and inspiring trip to be involved with and opened many doors for me with my own thoughts and experiences around veteran tree management and also gaining access to like minded individuals who are much further down the road to understanding and appreciating tree ecology. I also got to learn a little about the fascinating culture that is the Basque & its people.


      Here's a link to an earlier thread of images from the trip.........

      I’ve not really climbed much since, (last time was a parting team image for our apprentice, below) There’s been the odd tree inspection here and there, and I know I’ll regret stopping being a tree climber for a living but my passion with trees has taken me down a different path which I still thoroughly enjoy.

      The Basque climbs were a nice way to put a full stop at the end of my climbing career and I’ll reflect back on it with good memories. 




      David Humphries

      Trees Management Officer

      City of London Open Spaces                                                                        

      Hampstead Heath




    1. Member Blogs

      Russell Miller
      Latest Entry

      By Russell Miller,

      Seems to be the season for Coriolopsis gallica. This is a tier of brackets on a living Prunus padus street tree in Hackney. It took me a while to get to the ID since I associate Coriolopsis gallica with deadwood and ash.

      It is also fruiting in nearby Clissold park on a huge ash log.



      Coriolopsis gallica03.jpg

      Coriolopsis gallica02.jpg

      Coriolopsis gallica01.jpg

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      Recent Entries

      Arborist? Whats in a name?

      Writing the text for this site has caused me to ponder, are we Arborists? Tree Surgeons? or perhaps Arboriculturalists? We are all of these things, and probably a few others as well; forester, wood cutter, lumberjack, the list goes on.  In the internet age what we call ourselves is important since people will search the net for specific terms, and we don’t want to miss out by calling ourselves tree surgeons when our customers are searching for Arborists. Analysing popular search terms has raised more questions than answers.




      An Arborist at work?


      Unlike other professions we don’t have a registered name, you can’t just call yourself a chartered surveyor without being a chartered member of RICS for example, but anyone can call themselves an arborist or tree surgeon so I suppose its down to us to choose the term that best fits what we are.


      To me an Arboriculturalist isn’t someone who chops trees down, he’s more of a boffin, a scientist who takes an academic approach to tree work, surveying trees and writing reports, analysing samples and identifying tree diseases and Fungi.  Its not a popular search term on the net so we perhaps don’t need to worry about this one.


      I consider the Arborist as being perhaps one step down from the Arboriculturalist, academically speaking at least, he gets his hands dirty but he still knows his stuff, the O.E.D says “a scientific student or cultivator of trees” so not really the grubby chainsaw wielding type then. Although many now call themselves arborists in preference to tree surgeons, “tree surgeon” is still the most popular search on Google, with arborist coming a poor second, so while we may wish to associate ourselves with the more professional sounding “arborist” title our customers still see us primarily as tree surgeons. At least the term “wood cutter” is seldom found in the search box, although much more common in Scotland than in England and Wales apparently.


      So whats wrong with being a tree surgeon? well there are a lot of less than professional types out there who use that term, so perhaps thats the reason we are seeing more and more arborists as companies wish to disassociate themselves from the guys who will tar your drive, fix your roof and of course cut your trees. I have always called myself a tree surgeon if anyone asks, I suspect if I said arborist I would get a lot of “so whats that then” questions, to which the reply would likely be “you know, a tree surgeon”, Perhaps “a tree surgeon with brains” would be better.  Surgeons have brains, though, especially brain surgeons, who in conjunction with rocket scientists are the bench mark by which all other professions are judged. So whats wrong with being a tree surgeon? Are there really that many cowboys out there using the term? Its hard to tell.


      Lumberjack is still quite a popular search term on the net, more popular than arborist in fact, to me this has always conjured up an image of a bearded man mountain in a red plaid shirt walking through groves of giant trees in the pacific north west, I’m surprised it scores so highly. Up till now I hadn’t mentioned it anywhere on the site at all. Might need to change that!


      I have lost count of the times people have said “I thought there’d be three of you… you know tree fellers Geddit!” Thankfully its only a few comedians who look for the phrase, it hardly registers as a search term.



      A lumberjack?

      So what are we?

      Our problem is some of what we do is boffinery, and some is brutish tree killing. We do carry outtree surveys and write reports, and three of our staff are degree educated, with qualifications in arboriculture, but they all climb trees and use chainsaws, some have been seen in red plaid shirts, two have beards, and one is a man mountain, none of then thankfully are cowboys. It just gets more confusing! Perhaps “Arborist” is the best catch all term for us although its clear that I will have to try and optimise the website for most of the terms mentioned above, and I’m not sure I want to tell people “I’m an arborist” I still feel like a tree surgeon.  Still this article will have hopefully increased our internet search rankings for all the terms mentioned above so perhaps thats all that matters.


      Tom Dixon.










    2. Man has always had a direct link to the landscape, though that link, whilst it is always there, may not be in the form that it once was. Keeping with the wood pasture theme, which I am really enjoying learning about through books and journal articles, I thought we’d look at how the manner in which we approach the ecosystem has changed over the centuries (quite briefly). Of course, what is written below doesn’t stop just at wood pasture – it has cross-over to other ecosystems, where the reasons for interaction with the landscape have altered through space and, more pertinently, time.

      Historically, wood pastures were managed for economic purposes. The grazing of animals on grasslands containing trees (and the feeding of the livestock with cuttings from pollarded trees, and a tree’s fruit crop), such as cattle and pigs, was for the direct benefit of communities, who relied upon the produce of the livestock (milk, meat, and so on) in order to make a living, and to generally therefore survive. Of course, the wood pastures needed to be conserved, so that they did not disappear, due to over-grazing. In this sense, they were actively conserved (by replanting dying and dead trees, and limiting grazing intensity), though largely because, without actively conserving them, the livelihood of many tens of thousands of people would be challenged. A by-product of this conservation of wood pastures, for the benefits created from grazing livestock, was that the sites were very rich in biodiversity – birds, fungi, insects, and plants, for example. The complex mosaic of niches within the wood pasture, ranging from open and disturbed soils through to the (perhaps sizeable) groves surrounded by the mantle and fringe vegetation, meant that a large number of organisms could viably frequent the site. However, for all of the biodiversity present as a result of the careful management and conservation of wood pastures throughout history, biodiversity was not the reason for management – until recently.

      The shift, in Europe, probably begun when wood pasture became disliked (for hope of a better word), during the 19th-20th century (varies depending upon the country). Foresters wanted to maximise output from the trees (coppice – sometimes with standards), and farmers wanted to maximise agricultural output. Therefore, the two practices, initially married, were divorced from one another (somtimes farmers were forced to stop grazing their livestock in wood pasture!). Wood pastures were thus either cleared of trees entirely, or alowed to regenerate into forest. With this came a decline in the richness of biodiversity and, eventually, this loss of biodiversity caused a rather evident of panic amongst conservationists. Ironically, therefore, the rationale behind creating and maintaining wood pasture became largely ecologically-driven, in place of economically-driven (though, particularly in Spain and Romania, wood pastures remain, are these are generally economically viable). Regardless of reason however, the status of wood pastures essentially went full-circle.


      A fantastic wood pasture in Estonia. Source: Ideas for Sustainability.

      Of course, this new found love for wood pastures does not necessarily mean that they can ever exist in the manner in which they did before. First and foremost, wood pastures are extensively grazed, and thus, for operations to be self-supporting financially, they must cover large expanses of land (unless the wood pasture is maintained for subsistence purposes, or grants are provided as a means of financial support). As farmers in Europe are generally in ‘the game’ for profit (they must make a living), managing livestock in wood pastures is probably not going to be all too popular, as it’d probably signal a marked drop in profits and / or a marked increase in labour input (at least, initially). Scope does exist to harvest edible mycorrhizal mushrooms from the wood pasture, such as truffles, though this is a specialised pursuit that is far from the current farming status quo of Europe.

      Furthermore, European culture has changed. Gone are the days of communities being self-sufficient, and instead many Europeans now work a job (that they may even hate) and buy their food from the supermarket (or even order it online). Therefore, is there even the desire to re-introduce wood pastures, for anything other than ecological reasons, or to supply the market with a niche animal product (such as Iberian ham from the black Iberian pig, in the holm oak dehesas of Spain). With this change in culture there has also been a change in learning priorities, and unfortunately many today seem to be fixated with knowing pointless facts about sports teams and celebrities. Functional and practical knowledge is largely gone. As a consequence, the management of wood pastures will be left to an expert few, where knowledge has either been gained academically, or via being passed-down through the generations (usually limited to rural areas where grazing still takes place). However, as more people now live in cities than in rural areas, and this trend will likely continue as rural areas are swallowed up by urban sprawl, or people move into cities for economic reasons, this tradition of passing practical knowledge on and keeping up the family tradition of extensive livestock grazing within wood pasture may very well become ever more the stuff of legend.

      black iberian pig dehesa

      The black Iberian pig grazing amongst a landscape of holm oak, in a Spanish dehesa. Source: Andrew Petcher.

      Society is simply in a different place than it once was. For this reason, the conservation of wood pasture is to be far from mainstream. People are certainly aware of nature (of which wood pastures feature), though more and more awareness comes from watching on the television and less from direct experience, and with this comes a discord. There is less emotional and cultural attachment to nature, and as a result, less of an impetus to associate with nature. Why help with the recreation of wood pasture when you can watch about its conservation on television, utter some lamentations, and then switch the channel and soon relegate it to a mere memory? That’s even assuming people watch such programs, in large numbers, in the first place.

      This probably turned out far more dystopian than I ever intended for it to come out as, though hopefully this illustrates how social changes have led to landscape management changes, with specific focus upon wood pastures in Europe. This is obviously applicable to other landscape types as well, of course. The principle generally carries across.

      Source (of inspiration): Hartel, T. & Plieninger, T. (2014) The social and ecological dimensions of wood-pastures. In Hartel, T. & Plieninger, T. (eds.) European wood-pastures in transition: A social-ecological approach. UK: Earthscan.

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