Ride for Research

I suppose that it was one of those ‘eureka’ moments. Russell Ball, ISA Chapter President, was at the Arboricultural Association Manchester conference speaking to Mike Connick (Connick Tree Care) about the fund raising work of the ISA’s annual ‘Tours des Trees’, which takes place alongside the conference each year and raises funds for tree research. Mike had just done the previous Ride. Both were standing next to Dr. David Lonsdale, who spent his career in research. Were there any funding needs for tree health in the UK?, wondered Russell. David spoke of his concerns regarding Acute Oak Disease and the need for an updated digital microscope to aid research.

We live in an age where many can be cynical, spending time explaining why something can’t be done. Thankfully, Russell is not like this. He is one of those people who gets things done. He applies his passion and energy to bringing people together, without seeking personal credit. Thus was born ‘Fund4trees’ (http://fund4trees.org.uk/) . Ride for Research is one of its key fundamentals.

The International Society for Arboriculture is an international organisation, and Russell recalls the Tour de Trees ride in Birmingham in 1998 that coincided with the conference there. Mick Boddy, a passionate cyclist, took part on that occasion, and in New England in 1999, Washington in 2002 and California in 2007, so in a way, there has been a UK connection with Ride for Research for some time.

The Consulting Arborist Society has supported Ride for Research, contributing to the first fund which gave £5000 to Forest Research in 2011. This contribution enabled the microscope to be purchased. Recently, Fund4Trees gave £1500 to the Tree Design Action Group, helping to pay for a second edition of ‘Trees In The Urban Landscape’ to be printed. This publication details best practice in managing urban trees and with the second print, a copy can be sent to the Chief Executives of every local authority in England and Wales (the Council Leaders have already received their copies).

I mentioned that Russell has a ‘can-do’ attitude. He recognised the benefits of making Fund4Trees in to a charity. This required £5000 to be raised. These are especially challenging times for generating charity funds. However, Russell persuaded a group of individuals and organisations to each contribute £500. This included his own consultancy practice, Arbol Euro Consulting. By the time of the September 2012 Ride for Research, the £5000 has been raised. A key element of the Ride for Research event involves visiting local schools to plant trees, encouraging community involvement and environmental education. Barcham Trees have agreed to donate all the trees required.

Russell has been keen to ensure that Fund4Trees remains independent of any existing organisation. Therefore, whilst the ISA (UK&I Chapter) supports the project, and its’ Executive Director will be cycling in Birmingham, this is not a Chapter event. The Institute for Chartered Foresters (ICF) is on board, and I was delighted to announce earlier this month that CAS will be the tenth founding sponsors. Hopefully, others in the industry will join the team and promote research for trees and raise the profile of arboriculture, within the UK and further afield.
Mick Boddy, Martin Gammie and Gabriel Hemery of the Silva Foundation have joined Russell in founding the charity, which he hopes can be launched in the spring of 2013.

The next event is in Birmingham on 16th October 2012. Riders are welcome and donations can be made at http://fund4trees.org.uk/

Mark Chester is a practising tree consultant at Cedarwood Tree Care, director of the Consulting Arborist Society and a former Tree Officer. A graduate in Amenity Horticulture, he holds the AA Technician?s Certificate. He is a Chartered Environmentalist and Professional Member of the Arboricultural Association and the Institute of Horticulture. As a professional arborist, Mark prepares tree reports for clients from is Herefordshire consultancy.