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From 2019 Into 2020

From 2019 into 2020

Well goodbye 2019 and hello 2020 and the decade of the 20’s that you herald!

Our team finished our year in classic Treework Environmental Practice style; before celebrating the end of the year with magnificent company and good food and drink, we shared knowledge in our last Team Learning Day of the year. Claire Harbinson (Principal Consultant) gave a brilliant Presentation on Tree Architecture (an Ancient Tree Forum course which was led by Tom Joye that she and the other Principals attended at Hatfield Forest) and Neville Fay (Director) brought us up to date on the state of Tree Risk Guidance and Case Law at the start of the new decade. Neville drew on his extensive knowledge and his engagement with risk decision makers across sectors to provide an excellent, in depth analysis of where we are today, how we got here and what developments are likely to happen over the next year.

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Half of the time for the presentations was taken up with questions, discussion and ideas amongst the team; this is typical of our monthly Team Learning Days and our brilliant team of inquisitive professionals whom I feel so fortunate to work with. It has prompted me to reflect on what we have achieved in the past year and what the next year may hold.

I am not really talking about the boring stats like the over 100,000 trees that we have inspected and advised on, or the 570 plus hours of training that has nourished our team of 12 over the past year.

Really, I want to celebrate the harder to quantify achievements that have made 2019, amid all of its challenges, feel special.

The great relationships that we have nurtured with excellent arboricultural consultancy contractors and amazing clients, and with brilliant colleagues from across the arboricultural sector, landscape sector, academia and other disciplines.

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I am really proud of those in our team who have been awarded qualifications, including James Covenant and Mike Wood who now have Level 4 Certificates in Arboriculture and one of our Principals, Paul Muir, for becoming one of the first people in the world to be awarded the VetCert certification as an expert veteran tree consultant.

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Our team has shared their knowledge at conferences around the world including Paul’s brilliant presentation to the Arboricultural Association Conference titled “Crown Reductions: an Inevitable Response to Uncertainty”.  I presented on Veteran Tree Assessment and Management to the Slovakian Arboricultural Association, Neville, as Keynote Speaker, presented on “Rethinking the Tree from the Ground up” at the Baumflegetage Conference in Augsburg, Germany and most recently, in November, Simon Parfey, our Business Development Manager, presented with Neville and Claire on Soil and Trees to the London Tree Officers Association.

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We continue to be asked to solve problems and support excellent outcomes for councils, tree managers, legal practices, NGOs and all disciplines engaged in delivering housing and other developments. I am particularly proud that we have again been awarded the Royal Parks’ Framework for Arboricultural Consultancy.

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We have developed our Soil and Trees Department which is going from strength to strength. And we have invested in our advanced Tree Statics, Tree Stability Testing infrastructure by adding Tree Motion Sensors to our testing equipment.

Our CAD / GIS Team have developed many innovative approaches to solving technical problems and delivering complex mapping projects including drawing out spatial data to identify properties with trees in rear gardens for a tree risk inventory and producing tree planting designs that show how the trees will interact with the landscape as they grow.

We are all supported by our fabulous Office Team who make sure that everything works and happens on time.

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We continue to work with many dedicated experts to explore the horizons of arboriculture and develop new ways of working for the next decade, these include:

Neville continues to work with the National Tree Safety Group (NTSG) whose guidance, originally published in 2011, will be brought up to date in 2020 to take account of case law outcomes (such as Cavanagh v Witley Parish Council) and other issues including Ash Dieback and reviewing levels of tree risk.

I have been privileged to have been made a member of the CAVAT executive Committee.  We are currently working on some exciting new developments.

I am working with my industry colleague, Sharon Durdant-Hollamby (formerly Hosegood), on a project called 4D Trees, modelling development of CAVAT and canopy growth over time. I will be presenting on this at the Landscape Institute’s Digital Integration and Transformation CPD Workshop in Bristol on 28th January 2020.

Sustainable Soils Alliance continues to build national awareness and improve national policy to return our soils to health within a generation, even in these chaotic political times.

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Neville continues to work with the London Tree Officers Association (LTOA) Biosecurity Group, which operates collaboratively across a number of fronts to improve tree resilience and ensure robust evidence-based approach to protect against new introductions and manage pests and diseases in the Capital.

We have initiated the OPM Innovation Group in collaboration with Swansea University, Guildford Borough Council, National Trust, City of London, also involving  DEFRA and the Forestry Commission – to develop and test approaches for effectively addressing the infestation of Oak Processionary Moth that are impacting on oak trees, human health and local authority budgets.

The Communitree project, is a Geospatial Commission funded partnership with the Open University, Forest Research and Natural Apptitude to develop the largest spatial database of trees in the world. This project took me to present at Ordnance Survey headquarters (OS are also developing some amazing innovations) as part of a Royal Geographic Society event. Currently the Communitree project has a data standard that is out for consultation; if you want to contribute click on this link: http://www3.open.ac.uk/forms/individualtreedatastandard/

Another project intended to improve our sector’s access to and engagement with key technology is our work with industry colleagues in the Arboricultural Digital Practice Group (part of the Landscape Institute’s Digital Practice Group) to develop the arboricultural sector’s engagement with Building Information Modelling (BIM). We have a questionnaire online at the moment (please contribute via this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/2TR3PPP) and we’re planning a workshop with software developers in April.

We continue to work with the international SAG Baumstatik expert community.  This interdisciplinary group share expertise and experience to maintain and improve knowledge and standards in the use of tree-friendly engineering evaluation methods that meet the complex tree stability and safety questions.

Throughout 2019 I have been fortunate to be part of the LTOA’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group. This work is immensely important to me and it has given me great pleasure to be part of this group of dedicated and thoughtful tree officers. we have made great initial progress including

  • Collecting vital stats and feedback via an online questionnaire,
  • Producing a new Tree Officer Job Specification (already adopted by National Careers Service and LANTRA)
  • Jessica Stocks’ (Arboricultural Officer at Enable Leisure and Culture) inspiring and moving presentation to the National Tree Officers Conference

And we are due to publish our report in early in 2020. There is much more work to do, so watch this space.

Aligned with improving inclusion in our sector, is the work that I have been doing to build greater succession in our sector. One of the projects that I have enjoyed most has been working with Construction Youth Trust (CYT) to develop and deliver a maths lesson based on the calculations associated to a BS5837 survey. Matt Searle (Principal Consultant) and I, have both delivered this lesson now with CYT, in schools in London.

I am also excited and honoured to have been given the opportunity to be part of the Trailblazer sub-Group for Level 4 and Level 6 Arboricultural Apprenticeships. This is another stream of development contributing to building improved inclusion and succession across our industry (you can read my exploration of succession in our sector at https://www.treeworks.co.uk/the-challenge-of-succession-in-arboriculture)

If 2020 is anything like 2019, we will certainly not be bored. I have already mentioned many of our planned activities above and the early part of the year will also include many more of our team being assessed for the VetCert Certificate and Neville will be presenting on Arboriculture and Soils at the Tree Congress, Foundation for Sustainable Development Conference in Poland.

We have room to welcome new experts to join our team and we will be seeking the right people to contribute to the work that we are doing.

Our MyTrees will be going through a regenerative program to arise as 2.0….

We continue our work to improve as a company and to inspire and drive development in our sector.

We have exciting plans, so watch this space…

Happy New Year.

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