The life-saving job of a tree surgeon
I’VE always been a fan of trees, including the vast forests of western Poland, the hillside-hugging sessile oaks at Crowden in Longdendale, the Atlantic-hewn hazel forests of County Clare, and even the little horse chestnut outside the Laughing Badger Gallery in Padfield.
However, until recently, there was one tree which bothered me, and not because it was a sycamore, which many people regard as a weed, but because it blocked out a big chunk of the hillside from my view. Don’t get me wrong, we have a great view anyway, but imagine my joy last week, when Gareth Gerrard, of Bankswood Treecare, parked opposite the gallery and began to inspect the sycamore in question.
“What you doing lad?” I asked. “Shifting that sycamore,” he replied. At 61 years of age, somersaults were out of the question, but the next three hours unfolded like the unveiling of a masterpiece, our hillside canvas was complete, and it was also a first class lesson in how these things should be done.
As they weighed up the tree, which was next to the road and around 40 feet high, it soon became obvious that a parked car and random trailer could hamper their efforts.
Not a bit of it – belays, ropes and carabiners all came into play, and as the lower branches were chainsawed one by one by Gareth, his partner was there by the shredder, as they swung from high and ‘magically’ missed the car. I reckon that takes some skill.
The boys came in for lunch and it was there that the real story came out about their work and I was mightily impressed, so much so that I have decided, in the coming weeks, to produce a series of articles on those jobs which are intrinsic with the countryside, including dry stone walling and black smithing.
I loved the tales of delaying felling until nesting birds had flown, moving owl boxes, rescuing cats and carefully felling a tree in small slithers to allow a small colony of bats to be moved to a safer environment.
My favourite stories had nothing to do with trees or wildlife, and more to do with the public service our gallant tree surgeons offer thanks to their lofty viewpoint. Firstly, one lucky Stockport man was spotted as he collapsed after a stroke, and with no-one around, Gareth phoned an ambulance as he descended, and then ran to make the man comfortable before the paramedics arrived.
Secondly, the burglar who had the police waiting for him as he emerged from a property, after Gareth had seen him breaking in. There’s a book in this... The Secret Life of an Arboriculturalist.
I asked Gareth for some interesting tree facts and he could have carried on all day. Give him a shout on 07823 337053 or check out www.bankswoodtreecare.co.uk for more details.
Trees receive an estimated 90 per cent of their nutrition from the atmosphere and only 10 per cent from the soil.
Trees grow from the top, not from the bottom as is commonly believed. A branch’s location on a tree will only move up the trunk a few inches in 1,000 years.
No tree dies of old age. They are generally killed by insects, disease or by people. California bristlecone pines and giant sequoias are regarded as the oldest trees and have been known to live 4,000 to 5,000 years.
There are about 20,000 tree species in the world. The United States has one of the largest tree treasuries second only to India.
The largest area of forest in the tropics remains the Amazon Basin, amounting to 81.5 million acres.
The most massive living thing on earth is the giant sequoia in the Redwood Forest of California. It stands nearly 30 stories tall and is 82.3 feet in circumference. Its weight is estimated at 2,756 tons. ●● Competition
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●● Gareth Gerrard, of Bankswood Treecare, removing a Sycamore tree from outside the Laughing Badger Gallery in Padfield, Glossop
The Laughing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Padfield, Glossop