Re­silient Grow­ing

Country Smallholding - - Contents -


By Kim Stod­dart

course there fo­cused on tree bi­ol­ogy, pests, dis­eases and sub­si­dence. The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple work­ing at an ad­vanced level in the sec­tor will have com­pleted this course.

Bruce says: “There are now mas­ters de­grees in con­sul­tancy.”

Along­side his surgery work, Bruce com­menced con­sul­tancy work, go­ing on to be­came the plan­ning tree of­fi­cer at Bris­tol City Coun­cil.

“Tree surgery is a young man’s job, and I’m a go­rilla, not a mon­key. The mon­keys are the ag­ile guys who can work on the slimmest branches. I was heav­ier and slower, but I had a good tech­nique.”

The phys­i­cal­ity of the work wears out the body, though. Bruce now has a pin in his fe­mur, a dam­aged back and he’s bro­ken his hips in the past so he can’t do the phys­i­cal stuff any more.

“Ei­ther you grow your own com­pany to do the tree work, go into con­sul­tancy, or fo­cus on stump grind­ing, which is eas­ier on the body,” he says.

AR­BORI­CUL­TURE IS THE cul­ti­va­tion, man­age­ment and study of trees, shrubs, vines and other peren­nial woody plants. Forestry, or sil­vi­cul­ture, is the prac­tice of es­tab­lish­ing and manag­ing crops of trees for tim­ber pro­duc­tion.

Con­fused about tree sur­geons and ar­bori­cul­tur­ists?

Bruce ex­plains: “Tree sur­geons are crafts­men and women who know how to cut a tree. They pro­vide do­mes­tic tree plant­ing, prun­ing and felling ser­vices, or­chard work, hedge lay­ing and trim­ming and wood­land man­age­ment. They may ad­vise on main­te­nance re­quire­ments as well as pest and dis­ease con­trol. An ar­borist is prob­a­bly also a tree sur­geon and will un­der­stand the prob­lems af­fect­ing trees — why and how it needs to be dealt with. The ar­bori­cul­tur­ist is a tree ad­vi­sor or con­sul­tant likely to work for lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, util­ity com­pa­nies and de­vel­op­ers, pro­vid­ing spe­cial­ist guid­ance on tree health, safety, preser­va­tion, trees and build­ings, plan­ning and other laws re­lat­ing to trees. In ru­ral parts of the coun­try, a tree sur­geon will prob­a­bly do ev­ery­thing.”

Best prac­tice says a treesurger­y gang should be three peo­ple: one on the ground trained in aerial res­cue, one work­ing up the tree and the third deal­ing with the rig­ging.

The re­al­ity is that it’s usu­ally a two-per­son gang, with the per­son on the ground cov­er­ing both rig­ging and res­cue. The rig­ging is nec­es­sary to lower large pieces of tim­ber to the ground safely us­ing a winch, rather than cut­ting it into many smaller pieces at height.

TREE SURGERY HAS changed hugely in the past decade. The climb­ing equip­ment used to be three-stranded ny­lon rope and a sling with a slip knot.

“These days we use rock­climb­ing equip­ment and tech­niques adapted for tree work, in­clud­ing for the rig­ging and con­trolled de­scent of branches,” says Bruce.

In­creas­ingly chain­saws are more ef­fi­cient and less pol­lut­ing, and there are bat­tery-pow­ered mod­els for pro­fes­sional use. Chip­pers have be­come the norm as the high costs of dis­pos­ing of green waste in land­fill has en­cour­aged tree sur­geons to re­duce and re­use it as much as pos­si­ble. This min­imises the bulk of the waste, de­creases trans­port costs and the time needed to dis­pose of it. In ur­ban ar­eas tree sur­geons are ex­pected to take all the tim­ber or waste away, but when it comes to small­hold­ers ev­ery­one wants to hang on to the tim­ber for fire­wood and the chip­pings for mulch.

SINCE 2016 BRUCE, 58, and his wife, Jackie, have lived at Up­cott Mill, a small­hold­ing on the out­skirts of Bide­ford in North Devon.

Bruce says: “It’s a typ­i­cal, ac­ci­den­tal small­hold­ing. We loved the house and its po­si­tion. It just hap­pened to have seven acres, barns, out­build­ings and an old mill. We had no in­ten­tion of keep­ing an­i­mals, but now we have two re­homed Pygmy goats, eight Devon and Corn­wall Long­wool sheep and a Badger­face x Shet­land wether.”

Bruce and Jackie also keep a pair of chick­ens, but have plans to bring more to Up­cott Mill. Fi­nally, of course, there is Molly the black lab.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.coastal­

BE­LOW: A large fallen beech tree. Due to the fact that it hadn’t been in­spected be­fore it fell, it was found to have a cen­tre like a sponge. An ar­bori­cul­tur­ist is trained both to check the struc­tural sta­tus of a tree and also to re­move it when it has fallen over by ac­ci­dent

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