The life-sav­ing job of a tree sur­geon

Macclesfield Express - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

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 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

We have a nest box cam­era to give away to one lucky reader. For a chance of win­ning, sim­ply an­swer this ques­tion:

Who wrote about Gabriel Oak?

Send the an­swer, to­gether with your name and ad­dress, to the fol­low­ing email ad­dress by Novem­ber 1:

●● 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

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