• Callum Jackson

Ash die back tree climbing

Recently we have been doing a lot of ash tree felling as a direct consequence of ash die back (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus).

We are in the lucky position to own a tracked cherry picker (or MEWP) which is often the safest way to work on these trees. But we still climb a lot of them. We climb trees because access may not be available for the MEWP which is often the case in Domestic back gardens. We may climb trees because of reach requirements not being available on the MEWP. And sometimes, we climb trees because we actually love climbing and if the tree looks safe to climb and climbing/dismantling is an appropriately efficient/safe method then why the hell not!

But here is the issue. When are ash trees with Ash dieback safe to climb? As tree surgeons we assess trees from the ground, and then once in the tree we are constantly assessing the condition of the tree, the branches and particularly the points we are anchoring our ropes into. Recently we have been working on several ash trees that look not too bad from the ground but once we get into the tree it becomes very clear that the branches are very snappy and we have to be exceptionally cautious with our anchor points. Tree climbing/dismantling is always a very organic process. We make plans on the ground and then adjust as we go along. Given my experiences recently I am starting to adjust my own ideas of which trees are fit for climbing and which are not.

As a side note, here is a vid of an ash MEWP removal we did a few days ago. When the access is right, and the drop zone is straight forward the MEWP really does make things go fast.

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