Paul Muir – Principal Arboricultural Consultant
Next week I will deliver a presentation outlining Treework Environmental Practice’s extensive collective experience of managing veteran and ancient trees at the Deutsch Baumpflegetage (German Tree Care Conference) 2018, https://www.deutsche-baumpflegetage.de/en/timetable. I was invited to present at the conference through my close links with colleagues at the Sachverständigen-Arbeitsgemeinschaft (SAG) Baumstatik group, a European working community of arboricultural experts focused on sharing knowledge related to tree statics, and the application of the static load test (often referred to as the pulling test). This is a great opportunity to expand on Neville Fay’s presentations on conservation arboriculture at earlier Augsberg conferences for the same organisation in 2015 and 2017.
Treework Environmental Practice have been at the forefront of developing enlightened management approaches for ancient and veteran trees for several decades. This has been driven by Neville Fay’s long tenure as chair of the Ancient Tree Forum, through our collaboration with the deeply committed and inspiring members of the Ancient Tree Forum and through Neville’s involvement with developing the Specialist Survey Method on behalf of English Nature (now Natural England). As a result we have a close and long-standing association with a number of important custodians of the UK’s historic landscapes with veteran tree populations such as The Royal Parks, The City of London Corporation, The National Trust and large country estates such as Burghley House. These relationships have enabled us to advise on the management of populations of old trees with a degree of continuity and to observe tree responses and long-term outcomes.
In addition to outlining the importance of an understanding of the ageing processes in trees as a foundation upon which to base veteran tree management approaches, my presentation will aim to redefine (reclaim) the term retrenchment pruning. The original concept proposed by Neville Fay that every ancient tree should have an individual tree management plan (ITMP) was intended to ensure that management involved working towards a long-term goal over a number of decades. It seems to me that the importance of this message has occasionally been lost, with retrenchment pruning sometimes misinterpreted as a one-off risk management operation, justified by the use of natural fracture pruning and coronet cuts. The intention is that the Deutsch Baumpflegetage conference will initiate the production of new material clarifying and repositioning the role of retrenchment pruning, and the concept of staged crown reductions, in the light of the experience gained by Treework Environmental Practice from managing veteran and ancient trees over the long-term.
As with SAG Baumstatik membership I expect my attendance at the Deutsch Baumpflegetage conference to be a hugely rewarding; an opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences with our European colleagues. Treework Environmental Practice thrives on extending the horizons of the team beyond the UK. Exposure to the international scene has been fundamental to the evolution of the company, to the development of the Treework Environmental Practice’s Innovations in Arboriculture seminar series and to the recent creation of the Sustainable Soils Alliance. It is why my job is as fulfilling and inspiring as it was when I joined the company in 2000.