Posts By: Mark Chester

A Finite Life

Back in my days as a tree officer for Dudley Council, I remember being asked to advice on a situation where several Beech trees within an historic park were to be felled.  The park had recently gained protection due to its’ historic connections, and there was concern that the trees were to be felled.  When I visited the site, I found the trees, each a giant from centuries earlier, were succumbing to pathogenic fungi (including Meripilus giganteus and Armillaria melia).  I explained to the residents that, unlike the buildings within the park, which can be restored, each tree has its’ day.  These trees had done well to live as long as they had.  They are biological organisms which do not live forever.

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An informed health check

We arborists have been exploring ways to assess the health and condition of trees for decades.  A reliable, preferably non-invasive system that is easy to use and within the price range of the regular user.  Not asking much, is it?  The experienced, informed arborist can assess the condition of a tree from the exterior, but this doesn’t tell us about what is happening inside.

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But is it sustainable?

I am not a planner, or an urban designer.  I deal with trees.  However, trees are part of the planning process, so I am often granted a front row seat when it comes to the process of considering applications.  One of the key elements of modern planning, especially following the 2012 reforms, is sustainability.  The problem is that this term is not defined.  A definition that I have heard is of a self-sustaining system that doesn’t need further input, and does not generate waste.

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VETree Update

I am very interested in the care and management of veteran trees.  There is something about the form of a specimen tree in its’ advance years, and even those that have died can still retain what I see as an elegance.  I was rather disappointed to read in LinkedIn that a pear tree of some 250 years antiquity, which finds itself in the route of the proposed HS2 is planned to be felled, with cuttings being taken to keep the family line alive.  Personally, I find that a sad indictment of our priorities.

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A Vote of Thanks

After much work and preparation, CASTech, the technical seminars planned for Capel Manor College, were held on Friday and Saturday.  The second day, led by the emmitable Dr. Jon Heuch, titled ‘Effective Report Writing’, was more straightforward and followed the traditional CAS route.

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AA endorsement for CASTech

Later this week, I’ll be heading east to Enfield in North London for the CASTech technical seminars to be hosted at Capel Manor College (Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd May).  This is a rather different event to the ones I normally organise for CAS, as Friday’s line-up consists of a programme of speakers, rather than one speaker, which is the case for Saturday.  Fortunately, I have been greatly assisted by the willingness of several high calibre speakers to support the event (two Ph.Ds, the Chairman of the committee responsible for the new BS 8545 and a member of the committee responsible for the US-based Tree Risk Asssessment Qualification) plus the team at BlueGreen Urban.

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BS8545, a bit of a raw deal.

Back in February, BS8545 2014 was finally published.  This document extends to some 80 pages, and is available for the princely sum of £217 + VAT.  It was launched with some fanfare via a roadshow run by the Arboricultural Association beginning back in March.  Those attending the road show get a 25% discount on the publication, taking it to a more affordable £163 + VAT.  Not a cheap item!

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A moment to reflect.

I have been working on reviews for TPBE2 this week.  I anticipated before the event that there would be some major material, given the calibre of the speakers.  I was not disappointed, and am pleased I went with the intention of making copious notes.

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‘An Entertaining Evening’

During last week’s ICF conference ‘Trees, People and the Built Environment 2’, the Institute held its’ annual dinner and presentation.  I’m not one for these formal occasions, but the guest speaker was the highly engaging Clive Anderson and so it seemed to be an event to attend.  I remember watching Clive on ‘Whose Line is it Anyway’ and ‘All Talk’.  There was the memorable occasion when the BeeGees were his guests and he was rather rude to them.  They promptly walked out on him!

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Royal Endorsement for TPBE2

The long-awaited Trees, People and the Built Environment 2 was held last week.  I wasn’t able to attend the first conference, held in 2011, so was extra keen to be able to make it this time.  An event attracting 400 plus delegates on the subject of trees is of high calibre.  I’ll confess that many of the speakers, including a smattering of knights of the realm and professors alongside numerous Ph.Ds are not familiar to me but this partly reflects the emphasis on contributors from outside the arboricultural world.

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