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  • Kveldssanger

    Wood pastures and society – changing times and changing desires

    By Kveldssanger

    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. 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.

Most lame claim by staff

Can't go into detail but just heard in work of a claim one of the groundies has put in whilst carrying out his work. It annoyed me so much I was wondering what's the worst excuse to claim against a business you've had/heard of?



A step back in time

During the Carboniferous Period some 345-280m years ago, the continent of Pangaea began to drift northwards from its southern hemisphere origins, and also began to pivot 30 degrees to the west. Giant insects developed, amphibians evolved further and reptiles became more land-based. Plants were reproducing in an alternating manner of asexual and sexual methods across different generations (spores and seed respectively). Equisetum plants (includes Horsetails) became huge, forming Calamites in damp, swampy areas, and forming Cordaites (that had pollen sacs and ovules at branch tips - later forming the first conifers, such as ginkgos, during the Permian Period 280-225m years ago) in drier areas. Clubmosses grew to 30-45m in height. All of this development was fueled by the equatorial climate induced by the drift northwards of Pangaea, particularly at the northern-most end of the super-continent.   Coal measures were thus formed very readily from such large plants in what now constitutes Northern Europe (given this segment of Pangaea was first to travel over the equator), once the sea began to engulf the swamps of massive clubmosses, semi-composting them and later compacting them down with silt and clay to form lignite, and eventually forming coal under continued compression events. It took 20m of rotted 'forest' biomass to produce a 1m-thick coal measure, so given many European coal measures are hundreds of metres thick, the length of time required to create such coal measures would have been hugely significant. This also adds significance to our eagerness to burn such stored coal, releasing carbon that has been locked away for hundreds of millions of years in mere decades.   The southern area of Pangaea (Africa, Australia) contained smaller plants and thus smaller coal measures, only beginning to lay down larger coal measures (that never amounted to the extent of the earlier coal measures, as the steamy swamps that produced the huge clubmosses and subsequent coal measures no longer existed due to climate change) much later once the southern segment of Pangaea did reach the equator (during the Cretaceous and Tertiary Periods) when plants had evolved to develop roots and reproduce sexually via seed. Evolutionary-speaking, the development of reproduction via seed was critical to the survival of plants long-term, as germination could be delayed until conditions were desirable.   Building on the above a little, though nonetheless as a tangent, Europe has so few tree species as tree populations could not retreat southwards as the ice sheets encroached into their territory, given the east-west running mountain ranges that are the Alps and Pyrenees, and the area that is now the Mediterranean Sea. Because of these blockading landscapes, tree diversity is rather low within Europe, when compared to the Americas and Asia.   The UK's plant diversity is even more impoverished as when the ice sheets last retreated 12,000 years ago, the subsequent rising of sea levels bridged the gap to mainland Europe. Thus, only species that had colonised during the 6,000 years after the ice caps began to retreat are found today - any others that may have potentially once again reached these shores (I suspect sweet chestnut, plane, holm oak, etc, though definitely Norway maple and larch) were barred from doing given the mass of water in the way.   Source: Davis, M. (2015) A Dendrologist's Handbook. UK: The Dendrologist.

Mycelial Fungi

The traditional view of mycelial fungi is that the development cycle can be split into two stages: vegetative and reproductive. The former relates to the mycelial spread within the host and the latter the production of sexual or asexual structures that produce spores.   However, a more contemporary approach to discerning the development cycle of fungi reveals four distinct stages: arrival, establishment, exploitation, and exit. Such development stages are considered to be triggered by the changing conditions of the substrate (such as drying, cell degradation, etc), as in meeting the changing conditions the fungus must adapt its own behaviour (dubbed 'functional modes') to successfully persist within the host. Curiously, a fungus can compartmentalise itself so that, at different stages of decay within the same host, it adopts a different functional mode.   Each mode is briefly described below:   (1) Arrival: two known mechanisms exist: arrival as propagules (airborne and seemingly only favourable when localised conditions are optimised at the arrival surface - good supply of nutrients, a good microclimate, and a lack of competitors), or arrival as migratory mycelium (contact of an infected host to a non-infected host, such as with H. annosum and A. mellea).   (2) Establishment & exploitation: three principal concepts of this mode are understood: the fungus must successfully gain access to the host and begin to command available resources; the fungus must begin to successfully convert potential energy resources into actual energy sources, and; the fungus must successfully 'wall-off' an area to resist against competitors or the host tree itself, or in turn have a rapid exit strategy (panic fruiting on the wound surface or within the inside of the hollow(ing) host, for example).   (3) Exit: in the rawest sense, exit can be achieved either through the formation of reproductive structures or by the outgrowth of mycelium (relating back to the arrival strategies). The efficacy and extent of the exit mode is dictated by two factors: the extent to which resources are re-allocated from the mycelial biomass within the wood structure to the biomass of external structures, and; the effect of the environment on the form these exit structures adopt.   At a slight tangent, the r-K continuum further dictates exit strategy, with r-strategists (Deuteromycotina, Zygomycotina) taking a more rapid, economical stance to reproduction (not developing massive or durable exit structures), whilst K-strategists (Ascomycotina, Basidiomycotina) limit commitment of non-reproductive biomass, though also possess greater ability to develop exit structures that persist and are thus durable and do so at more 'fixed' stages. Within the continuum, certain species do however hold the ability to possess more than one mode of exit (such as with F. hepatica and L. sulphureus having the ability to develop either as a basidiospore on primary fruiting structures and as a conidiospore on auxiliary structures).   Source: Rayner, A. & Boddy, L. (1988) Chapter 5: Development Cycles. In Fungal Decomposition of Wood: Its Biology and Ecology. UK: John Wiley & Sons.  

Severing Roots

Severing roots out of purpose is hardly ever something that an arborist would find desirable, though it nonetheless occurs rather commonly where construction takes place and also where abatement of nuisance is practiced for terrestrial encroachment of a tree.   Current research indicates that the severance of roots is, by-and-large, highly variable. In one instance, root severance may have very little adverse impact on tree stability, though in other cases may weaken a tree by over 20%.   Roots that 'guy' a tree (exist uphill of the trunk) or reside on the outer (tension) side of a lean are ultimately far more crucial to the tree than the majority of the remaining root crown. Severing roots may not therefore simply be a case of "no more than 25% of the root crown can be lost", as context is key. If a guying / tension root is severed, the impact upon stability will be far more significant than if a compression root (or even multiple roots) is lost.   Statistically (from a survey done on willow oak), when assessing strength loss due to buttress root severance at the base of the trunk, a loss of 50% of the buttress roots will reduce the mechanical required force to move the tree one degree by a third (33%). However, due to the oscillating nature of winds, such a loss in root mass will result in a much higher decline in strength, particularly for larger trees with more wind sail (or where root decay is evident). Interestingly, such a loss can at times be achieved simply by severing a single guying / tension root, which suggests that trenching may be of particularly significant adverse impact to trees in more exposed sites.   Additionally, research indicates that severing roots closer than at a radius three-times the trunk diameter is not recommended, as tree stability declines significantly once this threshold is surpassed.   Source: Smiley, E. (2009) Root pruning and stability of willow oak. In Watson, G., Costello, L., Scharenbroch, B., & Gilman, E. (eds.) The Landscape Below Ground III. USA: International Society of Arboriculture.

Midland Reafforesting Association

The Midland Reafforesting Association was created in 1903 with the intention of undertaking afforestation projects (amounting to 14,000 acres) across the Black Country, England. Whilst in principle such projects were met with support by the government and other organisations, less than 1% of the target was planted so by 1925 the project was terminated and the Midland Reafforesting Association dissolved.   Predominant drivers behind the failure of the project included the residents' acceptance of the industrialised and bleak landscapes as if they were the norm and status quo, the lack of necessary funding from bodies that verbally supported the efforts of the Midland Reafforesting Association (particularly as the subsoiling / ripping of poorer-quality sites being very expensive), 'technical difficulties' (species selection, poor site quality, etc), and the fact that one of the core motives for the afforestation project, that of such forest creation improving land value, was at the time not supported by crucial evidence in favour of such a claim.   Unfortunately, and somewhat ironically, only one-sixth of the derelict 14,000 acres remained by 1953. Most had been built on due to demand for infrastructural services and homes for the rising population of the UK. The remaining derelict land, which would amount to around 2,400 acres, did funnily enough regenerate naturally, gradually 'greening' the residual areas left behind after continued construction.   To top the whole thing off, The Black Country Urban Forestry Unit (BCUFU) that was formed in 1985 to continue the efforts of the project from 1903, which evolved into the National Urban Forestry Unit (NUFU) in 1995, also disbanded (prematurely) due to a lack of funding from central government. The project managed to plant 837 acres of woodland over six years with a £8.5m budget, before calling it a day.   Not all is lost in failure however, as the lessons drawn from the demise of such an ambitious project paved the way for research into species selection for plantations, management of plantations, and planting techniques.   Source: Webber, J. (2008) Greening the Black Country: The Work of the Midland Reafforesting Association in the Early Twentieth Century. Arboricultural Journal. 31 (1). p45-62.

Coppiced Woodlands

During the 18th and 19th centuries, coppice woodlands underwent an 'improvement' period, which involved either (1) selective removal of more undesirable species with artificial planting / propagation of more desirable species, and (2) conversion to high forest (perhaps even the former followed later by the latter).   In reference to point (1), whilst many coppice woodlands only saw such improvement come in the form of gap-filling with Fraxinus excelsior and other desirable species, composition of other woods dramatically changed. For example, in the South-east Lowlands, certain coppice woodlands saw the introduction of Castanea sativa, Fraxinus excelsior, Corylus avellana, and Alnus glutinosa, whilst simultaneously seeing the removal of Acer campestre and, in somewhat of a paradox, Fraxinus excelsior, where the overriding objective of coppice was to harvest Corylus avellana poles. In the Western Uplands, Quercus petraea, and to a lesser extent Quercus robur, were selectively planted with the intention of subsequent harvesting for the leather tanning process and for charcoal to be sold into the metal industry, whilst Corylus avellana was selectively removed.   In reference to point (2), the conversion of coppice to high forest was driven by local demands (or even general neglect). Where action was deliberate, Quercus spp. were principally planted, though Fagus sylvatica was also planted in abundance (notably in the Chilterns and the Cotswolds) as, after a period of undesirability (due to its poor coppicing ability), it could now flourish within the high forest, continuous cover-esque style management regimes. Ultimately however, Quercus spp. planting was more evenly-spread than Fagus sylvatica planting.   Source: Peterken, G. (2015) Woodland History in the British Isles – An Interaction of Environmental and Cultural Forces. In Kirby, K. & Watkins, C. (eds.) Europe's Changing Woods and Forests: From Wildwood to Managed Landscapes. UK: CABI.

Hand Pruning Saws

Hand Pruning Saws   Sheathed Saw vs Pole Saw vs Pocket Saw   Hand pruning saws are essential tools for arborist, landscapers and forestry workers when pruning shrubs and trees, and woodworking. These sharp cutting saws are a common alternative to using a chainsaw for light work, and can also be used in combination with the chainsaw to complete heavy-duty tasks. Robust, handheld Silky Saw's are designed in a variety of sizes with a range of razor-sharp teeth configurations, and have long been the choice of professionals. Today, we are reviewing the most popular Sheathed, Pole and Pocket Saws from our list of the top 10 pruning saws. Please feel free to comment and share your reviews.   1. Silky Zübat Sheathed Saw
  The Silky Zübat Saw is a heavy duty sheathed saw featuring 7.5 teeth per 30mm. This razor sharp saw has been manufactured with a low curved blade and is ideal for delimbing large branches, including those above shoulder height. Comfort is assured with this saw by means of its moulded rubber handle. The saw comes with a scabbard with a constructed handle to creating a firm lock. Available in sizes 24cm-39cm.   7.5 teeth per 30mm Ideal for delimbing large branches Moulded rubber handle Available in sizes 24cm-39cm   Reviews:   2. Silky Zübat 2700 Pole Saw   The Silky Zübat Pole Saw 2700 is telescopic saw extending up to 8.85ft with a blade length of 15". This is the perfect saw for pruning branches at height without the need to climb. Its oval-shaped pole assures firmness and strength while sawing, in addition to allowing the user full control over the direction of the cut. The saws unique four cutting angles allow a fast and smooth cut, while shock absorber via the pole end ensures great comfort.   Extends up to 8.85ft Remains firm when extended Blade length: 15" Four cutting angles
  Review:   3. Silky Gomboy 210-10 Pocket Saw
  The Silky Gomboy 210-10 Pocket Saw contains 10 teeth per 30mm which are impulse hardened to ensure strength and durability are maintained. The blade itself is extremely thin and tough meaning that the saw will not bend as it cuts on the pull. Its handle has been designed using a rubber, insert processed steel for comfort and toughness. All folding Silky Saws utilise a safety lock system to ensure the blade remains still when folded.   10 teeth per 30mm Thin and tough blade Comfortable firm handle Safety lock system   Review:

How to avoid slips, trips and falls

Simon Ash, UK Sales Manager at HAIX    Between 2016-17, 13,000 workers in Britain’s agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors suffered non-fatal injuries, with slips, trips and falls causing the most incidents. It is estimated that slip, trip and fall accidents cost Britain £800 million annually, with the direct cost to employers costing around £300 million. Do you understand the importance of footwear in protecting you from slipping when facing uneven floor surfaces, wet environments and poor lighting?    Slippery substances such as oils, grease or rain, mud left on the rungs of a ladder and general debris are all risks you are familiar with. Falling victim to such accidents could increase the likelihood of you developing serious injuries or debilitating longer term health conditions such as musculoskeletal disorders. This will not just affect your health but also the productivity of the business in general, as you might be unable to work due to the pain.    The right safety footwear offers protection against many industry hazards. With so many safety shoes on the market, we are inundated with options and it’s difficult to know which to choose and what safety features are important.      Wearing footwear compliant to safety standards and with the right protective features is critical for preventing injuries. It is crucial to choose the right footwear for the right job – looking out for these features will set you up for the best protection:    Waterproof If you are suffering from wet feet, you may find it harder to concentrate as you are  more concerned about comfort, rather than the job in hand. This could lead to an accident.  To be labelled as waterproof, boots should adhere to the EN ISO standard: 20345/20347. This is the minimum European standard manufacturers should achieve. HAIX work only with the Gore-Tex laminate system which is highly breathable, as well as creating a durable barrier against outside water penetration which far exceeds the standards required.   Breathable, ventilation and insulation  Quality materials are additional key footwear features to consider, particularly in the winter months. Breathable and insulating materials will keep feet comfortable and insulated, safe from freezing temperatures. HAIX forest boots utilise breathable GORE-TEX® inner lining provide maximum climate comfort and total protection against moisture in any weather conditions.   Chainsaw protection  Forestry professionals must ensure their boots  offer chainsaw protection. The EN ISO 17249:2013 standard relates to safety footwear with resistance to chainsaw cutting.  Category levels range depending on the level of protection required for the chainsaw speeds: Class 1 (20 m/s), Class 2 (24 m/s), Class 3 (28 m/s).    Investing in quality footwear is priority. For more information on HAIX’s range of forestry boots visit, https://www.haix.co.uk or to find your nearest dealer contact WorkWare  http://www.workware.co.uk/

Metrics to Help Your Tree Care Company

Even when it comes to the tree care industry, numbers are important. 

If you don’t see the numbers, or the impact they have on your tree care business, you could be missing growth opportunities. 

Return on Marketing

Stop and ask how new clients are finding out about you.  Did they come from past clients, new referrals, radio ads, yard signage, billboard adds, or social media for example? 

It’s simple; whenever you get a new call always ask, “Well, how did you hear about us?”  This helps you gauge your marketing efforts.  You can now start to make your marketing strategies as precise as your felling cuts. 

  A common metric is that every ₤1 you invest in marketing should create at least ₤5 in revenue. 

For example, if you invested ₤500 into marketing, your target revenue should be ₤2,500. 

If this is not the case, take a look at your past client demographics.  Did you receive business mainly from residents, businesses, realtors, landscape referrals, municipalities, etc.?  Once you know this, you can think about how you got them and use the marketing medium that caters best to that specific group.              
Sales Conversion

Next, we have to go out and close the prospective clients.  This is about your closing percentage. 

Take the number of jobs that you got, divided by the total number of jobs that you assessed. 

For example, if you looked at 25 jobs and closed 12, then you have a 48% closing rate.  This allows you to see how successful you are at selling your services.  Your sales conversion ratio can tell you a lot about your sales process. 

Once you know and understand this number, you can ask better questions, especially if your results are not favorable, for instance, “Did we over-bid on these jobs”, “Did we not present our unique value proposition well enough to prospective clients.”     

Gross Margin

Understanding margin help you control profitability better.  This formula is simple and all about efficiency…

  Sales minus Direct Cost = Gross Profit

Your direct cost is essentially the money you have to spend to get the job done, for example, the cost of haulers, climbers, and ground personnel (the individuals who are directly providing the service). 

First, set a gross profit % target.  This depends on several factors: how you operate, your personnel, the amount of equipment used, and your profitability target.  If you desire a 50% margin, your total direct labor costs should not exceed 50%.  So, if you bid on a job for ₤2,000, then your costs should not be over ₤1,000.  Your desired gross margin depends on the amount of sales and the return that the company needs, to not just stay in business, but to thrive. 

Typically, gross margin should be at least 30% to ensure that the company has enough sales to cover the remaining fixed and variable costs of the business.  
Second, use a simple spreadsheet to track your gross profit per job.  Start with the price of the job minus the direct hauling, climbing, and ground costs.  Knowing the power of margin helps you make course corrections quicker along the way. 

Keep these 3 metrics in mind as you manage your tree service.     Edward Morrow, Accountant, Author, Arborist

Ed Morrow

Ed Morrow


MultiOne5.3 Model with the Kelfri Log Grab

The Kelfri Log Grapple, on a MultiOne 5.3 Model. Large capacity grapple on one of our most popular loader models.    The MultiOne 5 Series Telescopic Boom Mini Articulated Loader is a compact articulated mini loader offer a winning combination of performance and low operating costs. No compromise between performance, power, economy, innovation, technology and design. It stands to reason that this model is the most popular offer- available in the market to date. The telescopic boom combined with the compact size makes the 5 Series the right choice for anyone who needs boom outreach coupled with great agility in narrow spaces: from the DIY to the demanding professional.   Check The MultiOne UK Channel For More MultiOne Videos. https://www.youtube.com/MultiOneUK




A day in the working life of........

Snap shot of a random typical day as a Trees Management Officer, at the City of London’s Open Space of Hampstead Heath   June 2017                                                                                                                                                                      05:10 hrs   Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head……….   well, turned the alarm off before the wife elbows me in the ribs!                                                                                                            It’s early and I’m faced with a coffee fuelled drive in to work from deepest darkest sub-urban Suffolk.   In to work for 06:50, unlock the park and office, make a brew, fire up the computer to check the weekends e-mails (already checked on the duty work phone to be honest, but I don’t let the better half know I’m keeping an eye on work at the weekend)   The office is a porta-cabin in the Arb yard at a Victorian park in North West London. I’ve been employed here variously since the hazy summer of 1985, at first as a horticultural apprentice, then as a climbing Arb before becoming team supervisor then the job morphing in to a TMO. I run an in-house Arb team of four, we inspect our tree population using Arbortrack within a risk sequencing system. We sometimes cut our trees, we sometimes airspade our trees, we sometimes talk to the locals about our/their trees. Anything tree related, from safety to ecology, is basically our remit. The Heath has approximately 20,000 trees and sprawls out across parts of the London Boroughs of Barnet, Camden & Haringey but the trees have no conservation area or tree preservation orders.   07:30 hrs This particular morning I’m off to Queens Park (one of our satellite parks) over in the north east of the London Borough of Brent to check for the presence of Oak Processionary Caterpillars. There are only a couple of dozen oaks here out of the local 580 tree population, and the critters have been sniffing them out for the last couple of years.                                                                                                           During a walk over inspection I pick up on a few new potential Massaria affected London plane branches in the park, so note them for climb inspection and potential removal by the team possibly this week or later in the month.     09:30 hrs Catch a breakfast in the park café, chatting to the (fleet, constabulary and park) manager about vehicle & equipment (mewp) disposal.   10:00 hrs                                                                                                                                                     Drive back over to Hampstead.                                                                                                                                                      There’s a phone call report of a large branch failure on an Ash near to property on the other side of the heath. Turn up, check on the tree failure (Inonotus hispidus decay at an old pruning wound) Clear the branch failure and note that the tree should go on to our priority tree works list for reduction, as its lost another branch in the past probably also due to I. hispidus.  
  11:30 hrs Meet up with my boss in Highgate to sign off the team’s end of year performance/development reviews……….blinkin paper work !   12:00 hrs Back to the yard.                                                                                                                                                                    I order in some climbing & rigging equipment & vehicle parts for the team Land Rover.                                                 Send a few e-mails off.                                                                                                                                              Sample of emails include……                                                                                                                                       Brent Tree Officer (about OPM)                                                                                                                                               My boss (about a work experience enquiry from France)                                                                                                                                                                         In house Ecologist (asking me for a fungi ident)                                                                                                           My boss (about some training issues)                                                                                                                     A student (about why dressing parts of one of our trees in tin foil for an photography project, is not the type of thing we would ideally condone)                                                                                         Boss again (about team members sickness trigger level meeting) Grab a coffee   13:30 hrs Catch up with team out on site where they are clearing & lifting a few trees where the horticultural team are building a new stumpery.     14:45 hrs Back to the office.                                                                                                                                                        Putting together a list of veteran trees to work on over the next 18 months as part of an Ecology, Conservation & Trees team annual work plan.     16:00 hrs Up to the head office on the Archway Road to catch up with the admin team (about receipts &  purchase card issues......blinkin admin) then the boss to have the bi-monthly 121 meeting, talking budgets, work plans and stuff.   17:30 hrs – 20:00 hrs Finish the day up by having a look at a few unread threads at the UKTC, LTOA & Arbtalk forums       Chatting on line to an American Arb about Subterranean Root Girdles !                                           Edit some photographic images for my archives.     tree day done..........now where's me beer !    

David Humphries

David Humphries


2017 roundup: Productivity vs Injury Rates

Between 2016/17, 802,000 trees were planted across England, an increase from the 642,000 trees planted in 2015/16. This follows the Conservative government pledge in 2015 to plant 11 million trees by 2020.   To work safely and efficiently, coping with strenuous workloads in such busy times, you must be protected.  Wearing the appropriate safety footwear is critical and can reduce the likelihood of you suffering an injury or developing a health condition whilst at work.    Injuries and Illness in 2017   The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 2016/17 statistics show in the forestry, agriculture and fishing sector, 15,000 workers suffered from work-related illnesses with 12,000 non-fatal injuries and 27 fatal injuries. The figures reveal safety gaps in this industry, highlighting where more could be done to improve protection.    There are also pressing health issues that must be considered. The HSE statistics also show musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders were the most common work-related ill health condition to workers across the three sectors, accounting for 46% of all ill health problem, significantly higher than all other industries. Many of these cases could be linked to unsupportive footwear, lacking appropriate protection and safety features, ultimately making your working life a lot more difficult.    MSK- where are we now?   MSK disorders can develop through wearing safety footwear that is not fit for purpose and can damage joints, causing swelling of the legs. This could result in a range of problems for the feet including bunions and corns, steel spurs and even flat feet.  General pain and discomfort around feet, legs, hips and lower back is also likely. If these problems develop all areas of your life could be affected. This might prevent you from working, possibly leading to a lack of earnings   Focus on footwear   Protective, durable and comfortable footwear is essential for your safety, helping to prevent injuries whilst also ensuring you don’t suffer from long term health problems because of work. HAIX is committed to developing functional footwear features for forestry professionals, meeting end user demand, continually setting new trends and exceeding standards to reduce health issues.    Every pair of boots incorporates the latest materials and footwear technology to offer comfort and protection, with cutting-edge design. Key features in our boots that will help prevent MSK injuries and improve safety generally include:   higher quality materials for better support to the foot and lower leg arch support to ensure correct posture sturdy soles to give a strong platform for a range of surfaces Gore-Tex membrane keeping feet warm and dry.  chainsaw cut protection    2018    Busy times are ahead for the forestry industry and HAIX boots could be the key, helping to reduce incident rates and improve health statistics, ensuring continued growth in the forestry industry.   Invest in HAIX boots and protect your health as well as the success of your industry. For more information visit, https://www.haix.co.uk    

HAIX Footwear UK

HAIX Footwear UK


Trasmochos (pollards) of the Basque

A return to the trees of northern Spain   Beech pollards at the Urkiola Monastery October 2017   Context                                                                                                                                                                     A 10 year project sharing experience from the UK, Sweden & Spain on the ecology, cultural importance and vulnerability of pollarded trees across Europe.      The Basque area (as well as similar UK sites) have many examples of where pollards left out of regular cutting succumb to dysfunction, decline and fungal colonisation by Kretzschmaria deusta, Meripilus giganteus , Fomes fomentarius, Ganoderma pfeiferri & G. australe leading to part or whole tree failure.   The project has been focusing on the most successful ways of restoring lapsed pollards by a range of reduction techniques, to mitigate failure & decline.         Wind loaded pollard failure associated with Fomes fomentarius 2017                   Root plate pollard failure associated with Meripilus giganteus 2009   2007                                                                                                                                                                A comparison of pollarding techniques was undertaken across the Basque region at various sites.                                                                                                                                                                      A total of 38 lapsed pollards were cut in the Basque tradition (using axe/chain saw, down to just above the bolling) and in the Epping Forest and Burnham Beeches styles (using chainsaw and handsaws at a higher level in a phased 5-10 year cycle. 27 trees were cut by Spanish arborists  and 11 cut by UK arborists , with both sets of climbers mixing styles.    Basque style                                            Epping Forest style                                             Burnham Beeches style (Image taken by  H. J. Read)   2009                                                                                                                                                  After three growing seasons a team of ecologists and arborists from the UK visited the three sites and measured the vitality of the canopy growth and decline of the target trees to assess the response and reaction to the cutting.                                                                                                   Among other things like general vigour, the length & diameter of cut stubs, how many new shoots and clusters of epicormics growth were recorded from 10 cut branches from all cardinal points per tree.   Measuring on an Epping Forest style  repollard                                                                                 Measuring on a Basque style repollard   See previous blog entry & thread on the 2009 trip for further context…..       Jan 2013.                                                                                                                                                         Observations of the 2009 measuring/recording were presented in the Read et al paper published in the Arboricultural Journal - ‘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.   In conclusion the paper suggest that the pre-cutting vitality of a pollarded tree is an important factor and that retaining stubs of at least 500mm may be significant in the development of dormant buds. Avoid cutting branches over thirty years old as the ripe wood begins to deteriorate and the tree is less able to occlude wounds.   2017                                                                                                                                                                 A UK team from the City of London Corporation Open Spaces spent a week at the European Symposium on Pollarded trees, visiting sites, discussing experience on lapsed pollard restoration & looking at the natural heritage of the Basque region of Spain                                                                                      Image taken by Jez Young   Monday                                                                                                                                                         On a drive south from Bilboa in to the Navarre region, our group stopped off at the Monastery at Urkiola to see large numbers of lapsed beech pollards.                                                                                                                           Tuesday                                                                                                                                                                          Pollard Symposium at the Leitza Town Hall                                                                                                                   The conference started with a  set of presentations on the veteran trees and pollards at the four Open Spaces of Burnham Beeches, Epping Forest, Ashtead Common & Hampstead Heath. Followed by presentations from Ted Green MBE, Ecologists and Arboriculturists from Sweden and Spain.   Image taken by Jez Young     Question time followed by a fantastic exhibition of cross sections of local ring & diffuse porous tree species          Wednesday.                                                                                                                                                    Urkizu - pollard restoration work.  Revisiting some of the 2007 cut pollards.   2009   2017   After an interesting hike up into the hills above Leitza, looking at pollards and Basque living heritage on route, the group participated in a field work shop with Spanish Arborists (Samuel Alvarez  & Oriol the axeman) with the aim of further restoring a lapsed pollard (last reduced in 2007) by axe & chainsaw being directed by CoL Ecologists and Arborists.         Thursday                                                                                                                                                      Urbasa-Andía Natural Park in western Navarre                                                                                            A visit with Swedish ecologists and members of the Ancient Tree Forum to see oak, beech & maple pollards in wood pasture grazed by horses & cattle.   Maple pollards   Oak Pollards   Friday                                                                                                                                                           Oianleku - Aiako Harria Natural Park                                                                                                                      Revisit to the 2007 City of London cut pollards as well as assessing an area of Spanish hard cut pollards which appeared to have a high mortality rate.       The Future         Whilst the tradition of pollarding younger trees for winter fodder continues in the mountains and foothills of the Basque country, the project is ongoing with a few keen people cutting just a few old pollards each year and trying to source funding for the restoration program into the future. There is an appetite for an ongoing collaboration with Basque & Spanish arborists with the potential for working visits to the UK to work with Arborists in Suffolk and with the City of London Teams whilst working on the veteran pollards at Burnham Beeches in 2018.   This was yet again an amazing and inspiring trip and I very much hope to return to enjoy the heritage and tradition of the Basque way of life.   david.humphries@cityoflondon.gov.uk

David Humphries

David Humphries


Are your boots really waterproof?

Simon Ash, UK Sales Manager at HAIX   With the colder weather upon us, and heavy rainfall likely, your working conditions will become even more challenging. To cope with unpredictable climates, the protection your boots offer will become more important than ever.  However, your ‘waterproof’ boots might not actually be as waterproof as you think, with the current minimum standard still allowing some water penetration. Do you know   how harmful wet feet could be to your health?      A picture of health     If boots fail to provide the right level of waterproof protection and your feet become wet and cold, this could lead to serious health problems for the whole body. Wet feet are known to aggravate symptoms, weakening the immune system and reducing the blood flow to the nose and throat, allowing the body to be more susceptible to infections.   Keeping your feet warm at 28-30 degrees and the body at a healthy temperature of 37-37.5 degrees is crucial in maintaining performance and wellbeing, also ensuring working time is not lost.    Waterproof    Learning the features that make a boot waterproof and understanding the consequences of not wearing the right protection could be the key to going home healthy and comfortable with dry feet.    The EN ISO standard: 20345/20347 is the minimum European standard manufacturers should achieve for boots to be labelled as waterproof. The standard stipulates up to 3cm2 of water can still enter the boot. Whilst you may think your boots are completely waterproof, this is the basic standard, and water can still get in.    A series of tests are conducted ensuring boots comply with the EN ISO standard. The first is a trough test where boots are subject to 1000 steps in a trough of water, for the equivalent of standing or walking in water for 10-15 minutes. The second test is the Dynamic Water Resistant Test involving a minimum of 4800 steps for the equivalent of walking or standing in water for 90-80 minutes. The trough test allows a maximum of 3cm2 water into the boot but the Dynamic test doesn’t allow any water ingress into the boot, anything above this limit, the boot fails to achieve the standard and is not considered waterproof.   Preventing water penetration   To combat water penetration, many of the boots designed by HAIX, also incorporate a GORE-TEX® Laminate that is durably waterproof, breathable and moderately insulated. The protection this offers is essential for providing the best protection for those working in unpredictable conditions. Each pore in the GORE-TEX® membrane is 20,000 times smaller than a droplet of water, ensuring the boot is completely and durably waterproof.     The GORE-TEX® Laminate combined with the outer materials and manufacturing techniques stipulated by Gore also ensures water does not become trapped between the upper and the membrane, something that could stop the boot from performing as it should.  Water intake not only causes wet fit but will also, reduce protection, and thermal efficiency within the boot. Internal components could rot, lessening material strength and encouraging bacterial growth as well as bad odours.   Footwear incorporating the GORE-TEX® Laminate must undergo rigorous testing in a walking simulator ensuring absolutely no water penetration. The test involves 300,000 flexes for which is the equivalent of standing or walking for 80 hours in ankle high water, 300 times higher than the minimum EN ISO standard requirement.    Check your features   When working in the forest, you should ensure boots labelled as waterproof perform as you need them to. The GORE-TEX® Laminate provides you with assurance that your boots are completely waterproof. This will enhance your working life and also possibly benefit you financially, as boots will not have to be regularly replaced.   As the sky is set to get gloomier, ensure your boots are waterproof or pay the price physically and financially.    For more information visit, https://www.haix.co.uk/workwear/ or visit your local stockist, https://www.haix.co.uk/  

HAIX Footwear UK

HAIX Footwear UK


MultiOne UK Announces New Dealer - HQ Forklifts Ltd

Leading British importer of multifunction loaders MultiOne UK, announces a new dealership in the Cambridgeshire Fens region. With immediate effect, HQ Forklifts Ltd will offer special sales, support and service for MultiOne users. Based in Doddington, Cambridgeshire, HQ Forklifts Ltd are well positioned and equipped to support the Cambridgeshire region.     Designed and manufactured in Italy, the MultiOne mini loaders have been sold globally for 18 years by MultiOne SRL who have pioneered a complete range of multifunction loaders with advanced hydraulics, innovative design and Kubota & Yanmar engines.   ABOUT HQ FORKLIFTS LTD   HQ Forklifts Ltd is a family run materials handling business based in the heart of the Fens in East Anglia. The company prides itself on establishing and maintaining excellent customer relations, giving support 24 hours day, 365 days a year. With 5 mobile workshop vans, HQ Forklifts Ltd is able to service most types of material handling equipment including the MultiOne, and can already maintain machines within a 50-mile radius of the HQ Forklifts Ltd base.  As members of the CFTS (Consolidated Fork Truck Services), HQ are fully qualified to carry out thorough inspections (LOLER) on the full range of  MultiOne Mini Loaders, attachments and other material handling equipment. The HQ Forklifts Ltd sales team are geared to offer on-site non-obligation demonstrations of the MultiOne product and the numerous attachments MultiOne offer to all types of businesses including builders, farmers, nurseries, event companies, landscape gardeners and to any other business that needs to use a small pivot machine in confined spaces           This partnership strengthens the MultiOne representation which already includes East Midlands, Yorkshire & The Humber, North West England, South East and Northern Ireland.           The demand for MultiOne mini loaders has increased over the last 12 months mainly due to the MultiOne unique benefits such as the 170 attachments available, it’s impressive power, performance and the ability to manoeuvre in hard to get places.     Over 170 Attachments Available The MultiOne range extends over 25 different models offering a wide range of working weights from the 12hp (tipping load of 250kg) of the MultiOne Baby 1 Series to the 78hp (with a max lifting capacity of 2700kg) of the Powerful MultiOne 10 Series. As with the competition in this sector, the MultiOne offers innovative solutions for those looking to maximize productivity in every industry from agriculture, construction, forestry, maintenance and greencare. With over 170 attachments available that can be changed within a matter of seconds, it ensures a solution is at hand for every task at a drop of a hat. Dig, Mow, Lift, Mix, Scrape, Carry, Trench, Plough, Grab, Sweep, Wash, Rake, Spray and much much more. Expensive labour costs are also reduced by mechanising a vast array of jobs. Hydraulic quick coupling systems are standard on all loaders providing effortless change over of attachments. This certainly provides One Total Solution.     MultiOne was recently voted “Best in Class” by Farmers Guardian magazine             To request a MultiOne demonstration from HQ Forklift Ltd, please contact them directly on 01354 740100, or visit their offices and showroom at Unit 6, Wheelhead Farm, Turf Fen Lane, Doddington. Cambridgeshire. PE15 0TB  




Firewood? What is a load?

We have been splitting logs lately, the timber has been lying in the yard for a couple of years and now we want to get it converted into logs to finish seasoning indoors so we have been busy with the firewood processor. Looking at the pile of logs and thinking about selling it all next winter has led me to consider the best way to market and sell our produce.  Since Trading Standards and the Weights and Measures Act 1985 have little to say regarding firewood we are a bit in the dark when it comes to quantities, packaging and pricing. With most goods the law is quite clear and very strict with serious penalties for suppliers who sell goods in quantities or measures outside those prescribed in the Act. Firewood however is a bit of a mystery, I suspect that it falls under the category of solid fuel, but its hard to confirm if thats the case. However it is viewed officially it would appear that the market is wholly unregulated.   Logs are sold in a variety of ways, here are a few of the most common:   By weight; usually by the “ton” however this is almost never confirmed by any kind of weigh bridge ticket something which  is likely to be illegal as far as the weights and measures act goes as one thing they are strict on is selling by weight. There is however a fundamental problem for the consumer with buying timber by the ton, this is simply that the wetter the wood the more it weighs. So there is an obvious incentive for the supplier to sell unseasoned wet wood as this will significantly ‘up’ his margin, if he bothers to weigh it at all that is!  Supermarkets have been dicing with the same issue for years when it comes to meat, hanging the meat performs the same function as seasoning logs, it dries out a little and whilst the flavour may improve, and possibly the price per kilo, the lost moisture is lost profit since they bought the meat by weight in the first place. They have got around this problem by injecting the meat with “stuff” to bulk up its weight, and apparently this is ok with trading standards! This has gone on for years of course, in times gone by bakers used to be infamous for adulterating their flour with fillers such as bone meal, chalk, sawdust and even gypsum! Thankfully at the end of the 19th century laws were brought in to standardise what could be called flour, maybe its time they took a look at bacon! (all that white stuff that comes out as it fries is the supermarkets added filler).   So back to logs, selling by weight simply encourages the supplier to sell wet wood, and wet wood is not good for burning, not only does it produce little heat but because it burns at a lower temperature the combustion is incomplete, so gaseous tar and soot condense in your flue potentially leading to chimney fires. It would perhaps be ok to buy logs by weight at a known moisture content as happens in the wood chip for biomass industry, but that rarely happens.   By far the best way to buy firewood is by volume, this way you get what you pay for, they may still be wet, but 100 logs are still 100 logs wet or dry, so now the incentive is with the supplier to sell a quality product, assuming he wants to keep your business that is. So the next problem to arise is quantifying that volume, a cubic meter is a relatively common unit and should be the ideal but thats not always the case, which leads us to what is perhaps the most common way of selling logs…..   The load. So what is a load of logs? Well, anything you want it to be really, and this is where the industry really needs some guidance from the government. The load could be a bulk bag, but these vary in size from 2 cubic meters down to less than 0.5, or it could be a vehicle of some sort, trailer, pickup, 4×4 or even a car boot. From the consumers perspective how are they to compare one ‘load’ with another, does the back of one suppliers transit van compare favourably with another’s trailer? Who knows?  The upshot is the poor consumer is left in the dark. With weights and measures regulations so strict on other industries, including coal and smokeless fuel, why is it that logs are still in the dark ages when it comes to consumer protection?   The answer may lie in the fact that during the industrial revolution we abandoned wood as a fuel, only to re-discover it in the last 10 years or so, and when the laws on weights and measures were made firewood just wasn’t on the radar. But these days it is most definitely back as a serious contender in the fuel market, sales of wood burning stoves have soared thanks to the carbon neutral credentials of  burning wood over fossil fuels. (don’t get me started on the carbon credentials of imported eastern european logs though!)   Its time for HM Government to wake up to the burgeoning market in firewood and apply a little common sense to the way in which our logs are sold. We could do with a standardised moisture content for firewood, so that customers can expect to be able to get a certain calorific value from their wood, at least if its advertised as ‘ready to burn’ anyway. Then theres the weight / volume issue, logs really should be sold by volume, and all prices should be advertised by the cubic meter, irrespective of the size of vessel used to deliver them. This way the consumer can confidently compare prices from one supplier to the next. We have found that selling by the cubic meter we loose out to other suppliers selling by the bulk bag, our £60 per m3 has less appeal than a £50 bulk bag even though that bag may only contain 0.6 cube, making it considerably dearer, what do we do, sell unseasoned wood in order to cut our prices further, or try and skimp on the amount we sell?. Sadly the lack of regulation is currently driving quality down as firewood producers engage in a race to the bottom to stay in the game.   So if you agree with the views expressed above please share this article on Facebook with your local trading standards office, yes they all appear to have FB accounts! You could also share it with your MP. You never know we may end up with a fairer firewood market in the not to distant future.   For some further reading here’s a helpful PDF from the Forestry Commission.

Tom D

Tom D


The Hidden Heath

'The hidden heath'
David Humphries, trees management officer Hampstead Heath   The following article is taken from a series looking at the hidden treasures to be found in London.
Lonely Planet Magazine
January 2012
Words by Matt Bolton
Main Photo Matt Munro   David Humphries on Sandy Heath. His latest obsession is studying how fungi and trees cohabit.   'You don't just stumble across this place,' says David Humphries a man whose excitement at clambering up the nearest trunk puts even the keenest five-year-old to shame. 'It's a place for locals only really. You'll be lucky to see two or three dog walkers a day here, unlike the rest of the park.' Here on Sandy Heath - a serene wooded Glen in the western section - there is a preternatural serenity. It's difficult to believe that this peace can be found just a couple of miles from the frantic tumult of the City, nor in an open space that attracts seven million visitors a year. 'In spring, when it's in full leaf,' says David, 'you can't hear anything except the rustle of leaves.'  
David has worked at the Heath since 1985 first joining as a sixteen year old apprentice. Despite being London bred, he says that he was never a city type, and was always drawn to a more rural lifestyle. The remarkable character of Hampstead Heath has allowed David to fulfil his dream.
Unlike London's more sedate Royal Parks, the true mark of the wild remains in the Heath. Trees are allowed to grow in crooked angles or to fall to the floor, and dead stumps slowly rot (they are a vital habitat for insects and bats) while leaves are left to pile up and decompose. 'Some other parks are more sanitised, like a Victorian pleasure park, 'says David. 'Every leaf is cleaned away so people don't get their shoes dirty. On the Heath, we're more about leaving nature to its own devise.'     A short walk from Sandy Heath are the ruins of Pitts garden, which once belonged to the 18th century prime minister, William Pitt the Elder. A red-brick arch is all that remains, incongruous amid the woodland. A huge Beech has sprung up beside it, the roots pushing the wall of the arch over to such a crazy angle that David had to insert a support frame to stop it keeling over- a quick intervention to satisfy both the historians and the naturalists.    Across the road is the Hill Garden, perhaps the greatest of all the heaths hidden treasures. The huge stately home had been turned in to luxury flats, but the long serpentine pergola walkway that winds its way above the grounds for a third of a mile is open to the public. It's stone path is lined with pillars that in spring are wound with wisteria and roses.
'Spring is a time of natural noise. You can actually hear the sap rising,' says David. 'Summer is a time of buzz, the insects and crickets. And the winter is a time of dormancy and silence. That's my favourite time of the year , when the Heath feels at complete peace'   The viaduct bridge was built in 1845 as part of a failed attempt to turn the Heath into private gardens.    Hampstead Heath, NW3    

David Humphries

David Humphries


London's fruit tree heritage & hidden orchards

London’s fruit tree heritage and hidden orchards    Remnant veteran pear tree in Victorian planted orchard at Golders Hill Park in north London   There are an estimated 400,000 apple trees spread across London today, this is approximately 5% of greater London’s 8 million trees.   For many centuries whilst London was still growing, there was a need to feed the city’s population with local produce, many large commercial market gardens and fruit tree orchards would of been found in and around the capital supplying the market traders with apples, pears, medlar's, quince and mulberry's.   Same orchard as the pear above, taken circa 1920's   But with a growing need for housing these enterprises eventually succumbed to become the building sites of the urban sprawl and the fruit trees would have been mostly felled. The occasional tree escaped the axe and would of been left at the back of long narrow gardens hidden away to all but the home owner and the wildlife that would make the most of natures free food. Many of these trees would have grown tall and leggy and lappsed out of cycle of being productive fruit producers due to the lack of light, correct pruning and good maintenance. Remnants of this market garden heritage remain throughout the capital, in private back gardens, parks and public squares.   A number of areas across London still retain names associated with a fruity heritage such as Plumstead (place of plum trees) Perivale (pear tree valley) and many street names perhaps reflect a link to their past via their fruit tree names.                                                                                                                                                                                                       Heathrow airport's runways have replaced orchard nurseries, just a few meters away from the  cemetery where Richard Cox is buried, the gardener who developed the Cox Orange Pippin.   Today there is a resurgence in fruit trees being planted in gardens with garden centers and nurseries providing a wide choice of old and new varieties and for old veteran fruit trees to be restored and conserved by skilled arborist. There is also a concerted effort to discover hidden orchard remnants in public parks and to bring them back to being productive trees for local community and school projects.   Apples harvest from my own old remnant apple tree in the back garden in north London   Recently I had the pleasure of supping cider from a newly formed brewing company in London called Local Fox Their cider and apple juice is crafted from apples harvested across the capital by volunteer orchardists.   Very nice it was too........hic !     https://www.theorchardproject.org.uk/drinks/     For more information on this visit the website of the Orchard project. http://www.theorchardproject.org.uk/home     Video on how to restore old fruit trees by the Vetree project http://www.vetree.eu/en/page/86/Video+fruit+trees     .

David Humphries

David Humphries


The urban forest: our most sustainable wood fuel resource?

Some thoughts on our green infrastructure and its use as a fuel source.   The benefits of our urban green spaces are well documented, we know for example that they aid heat amelioration, improve air and water quality and improve urban drainage helping to prevent flooding.  They are also responsible for improving our health and well-being; encouraging people to spend more time outdoors improves physical fitness and studies show beneficial impacts on cognitive function. Trees raise house prices too: estimates vary between 5% and 30% increase in value for houses in leafy areas compared with those where trees are absent.  They also harbour urban wildlife, which again has a positive impact on our wellbeing.   What we don’t seem to do is consider our urban green space as a sustainable fuel resource. Yet huge quantities of our urban trees are felled every year, with the vast majority of this timber finding its way into the firewood market. So why don’t we notice this denuding of our green spaces? Well, it seems we plant an awful lot too, its hard to find figures but its pretty safe to say that we must be planting trees at pretty high rates too. Garden centres sell huge quantities of trees, shrubs and hedging every year, and these are the potential problem trees of the future, ready and waiting to be recycled as sustainable firewood….. While Mrs MacDonald at no 57 was having her overgrown tree removed Mrs Jones at No.28 has been to the garden centre and bought 3 poplar trees… The public sector plant a lot of trees too, we have planted around 500 amenity trees in parks and on streets in the last year for local authorities, and thats just a drop in the ocean overall. With the benefits of green infrastructure being well recognised planners are keen to ensure that any new projects incorporate an element of green space, and trees are usually involved. Most large infrastructure projects have a significant element of tree planting involved, and in some cases new urban forests are being created. Its easy to see a bright future for our urban green spaces.   So just how green are our cities? Take a look at satellite imagery of Edinburgh, there’s definitely more green than grey,or if you live in the city just climb one of the city’s many hills, heres a view looking north from Blackford hill:       Looks pretty green doesn’t it?   So what about cutting them down and burning them? well clearly it wouldn’t be good if we cut them all down, but if managed sustainably surely our urban forests are a resource not to be overlooked in our push away from fossil fuel energy? Which begs the question; are we managing our urban forests sustainably? I would say that in my experience of Scottish towns and cities that we are. In 15 years of working in arboriculture I have not seen any noticeable change in the numbers of trees or the levels of green space in Central Scotland, The Lothians, The Borders, or any other areas that we cover, also I suspect this trend can be seen across Britain as a whole. Let me know if you think otherwise.     So how much biomass fuel are our urban forests producing? And what does that equate to in terms of energy? Well again figures are hard to come by,  TD Tree & land Services have removed around 500 tons of useable biomass from the Edinburgh area over the last 12 months. If we use that as a starting point and  imagine that averaged out each of the 30 or so professional tree surgery companies operating in the Edinburgh area had removed 200 tons of useable biomass then we have 6000 tons in total. If this was broken down into 2000 tons of logs and 4000 tons of chip the monetary value would be around £500,000 once processed, not bad! That would yield around 22.2 Gigawatts of heat energy, which is a lot when you consider that Doc Brown’s DeLorean only needed 1.21GW to send it back to the future…. Actually it would probably only heat the entire city for a couple of weeks but then a couple of weeks is better than nothing an would still be a 4-5% saving on total energy used. If every city did the same then we would have gone a significant distance towards our carbon reduction targets.   The only question remaining is are we putting all that green energy to use? I’m not sure that we are, while most tree surgeons sell their timber as firewood most wood chip goes to composting, ending up being used as mulch on paths and allotments. In environmental terms this is a waste. It would be good to see more of this being used as a fuel source, it has its problems as such though, it tends to be of differing quality, in terms of size and consistency, as well as moisture content. None of these problems are insurmountable though, chip can either be screened or burned in boilers that can handle the uneven particle size, and chip can also be dried to a moisture content that allows more efficient burning. Until we tackle these problems though we will still end up wasting a large amount of the green energy that our urban forests produce, boiler manufacturers need to come up with boilers that can handle stringy leafy chip  Furthermore if someone built one that used spare heat to dry the chip in its chip store as it made its way through to the burner then they would undoubtedly be a top seller, in most cities tree surgeons will dump chip for free as they are keen to get rid of it, someone with a boiler that was capable of taking fresh chip and drying it before burning would likely have a free source of fuel….  

Tom D

Tom D


Is the horbeam a suitable street tree for Catalonia (Spain)?

The hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) in Catalonia This year we have planted 11 European hornbeams in the streets of Olot, Catalonia.   planting of hornbeam as street tree in Olot, Catalonia   After an initially good start, we saw the newly planted trees suffer during the extremely hot and dry summer. The trees showed different signs of stress in midsummer (wilting of leafs and leaf loss), which are of course not uncommon for freshly planted trees.   leafs are wilting and turning brown in june   The young trees haven’t had time to develop a proper root system after they have been taken out of the field in the nursery. Which makes it difficult for them to absorb enough water to sustain the leafs in the tree crown.   primary roots have been cut in nursery to create rootball   But it was not until we had seen the hornbeam in its natural habitat in Eastern Europe forests before we started to ask ourselves the question: Is the hornbeam a suitable tree for the landscape in Catalonia?   hornbeam in Poland   In order to answer this question we made a small study of its natural habitat and its preferences and compared this parameters to the situation in Catalonia. Distribution The hornbeam is native to central, eastern, and southern Europe, including southern England. It can also be found in Western Asia (source Wikipedia).   map of the distribution in Europe (wikipedia)   The map shows us that the hornbeam is not native in Spain, although it is in some countries nearby such as France and Italy. However the (small orange triangle)    in Catalonia means that the tree has been introduced and naturalized in this area. Natural habit The hornbeam prefers growing in a shade place with a moderate soil fertility and also moderate moisture. It likes growing in forests of oak and beech trees and is often found near the borders of the forests. It is also common in wet areas near rivers (source wikepedia, árboles de Europa, Margot y Roland Spohn) Most street trees have a lot of sun hours in Catalonia, due to the high sun elevation angle. During summer days there isn’t much shade for normal street trees. The soil fertility strongly varies in the different areas of Catalonia, however the fertility of the soil within a city is normally poor. Not only do the trees in cities have little soil available, but there also hardly isn’t any organic layer in the soil. The moisture level of the soil is low during summer. During hot periods in Catalonia the soil can even completely dry out. Conclusion All together the conditions in Catalonia don’t seem to be favourable for the hornbeam. Some parameters can be improved, such as the soil fertility and the humidity by adding fertilizers or installing a water system. It also possible to plant the hornbeam in the shade of a high building, bridge or other high trees. Before planting the hornbeam it is recommendable to improve the soil condition by adding organic material. After the planting it is important to provide enough water until the roots are developed. We are going to continue monitoring the development of the planted Hornbeams in Olot and next year we can hopefully dedicate an new post to them. What is your experience with the hornbeam? Please let us know by writing a comment.   leafs of the hornbeam   this blog is an adaption from: http://www.podagirona.com/en/the-hornbeam-carpinus-betulus-in-catalonia/

Poda Girona

Poda Girona


My Last Climbing Hurrah !

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 David.humphries@cityoflondon.gov.uk  

David Humphries

David Humphries


Coriolopsis gallica

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. @treeruss

Russell Miller

Russell Miller


So what is an Arborist?

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.   http://www.tdtrees.co.uk/                          

Tom D

Tom D


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