In addition to the MEWP units we were undertaking last week, this week sees some of the apprentices showing us the skills they have learnt with Polesaws.
It is a very useful piece of kit, and saves a lot of hassle for removing low branches. The trick is to remember not to stand under the branch you are cutting (believe me this happens!!), and to try to keep the saw at a maximum angle of 600. The saw Chris Weedon is using below, is telescopic, and can be extended to deal with different heights of branches.
To Chris Weedon from K J Thulborn’s, who this week completed his Apprenticeship. His work has been exemplary throughout, but as a professional photographer as well as an Arb, as you can see above, he has produced the most amazing, detailed and frankly good looking tree portfolio I have had so far!
Arb Academy The Next Generation…….
We are coming to the end of our cohorts on the old Level 2 Trees and timber Qualifications. Our new cohorts from September onwards will be on the new Standards, which were originally known as the Trailblazer. The new Standard, is similar to the model we already run here at the Academy, but has even more detail, and consists of various practical certificates, and licences to practice, built into the qualification. In addition the Apprentice will keep a log of their day to day work, and progress, and then build a detailed portfolio of, amongst other things, tree and fungal identification some 50 trees and shrubs and 20 fungi!!Once they have completed all the various tasks, and everyone is happy with the standard of work, they are put forward for the EPA (End Point Assessment), where an external assessor puts them through their paces, and checks that what they have put in their portfolios is accurate. At this point, if they are successful, they pass, if not the work is fed back to the Apprentice, Employer and Trainer, any issues are dealt with, and the Apprentice then goes back in for the EPA. The whole thing should help to raise the standard of Apprenticeships across the country, and should result in an enjoyable but intense learning experience for the Apprentice!
Arb Academy Collaboration
On Thursday I was out at Buckfast Abbey working with PhD student Emma Gilmartin, and her able helpers Yu, a visiting academic from Japan, and Ed, a Degree level Biology Student from the Cardiff University. We were gathering additional samples for an experiment that Emma has been running on what types of Fungi live inside trees. The Arb Academy, and its students have been involved from the start helping the team to identify, tag and sample the tree specimens. It involves GPS location of the trees, numbering them and carefully removing a square of bark. Small samples of wood are then drilled out of the tree and carefully extracted.
Everything is done in as sterile a way as possible to prevent contamination, hence the gloves! The wood samples are put into a small sterile pot, and then sent taken back to the lab, where some will be cultured to see what fungi will grow, and other samples will then be DNA tested to see what species are present, and the two compared.
Fungi that live, and generally lie dormant in wood are called ‘Latent Fungi’. This concept was investigated and developed, by world renowned fungal ecologist Professor Lynne Boddy and her team at Cardiff in the 1980’s, and they continue this interesting research to this day. The internal interaction between fungi and trees, is not well understood, and this research, will hopefully start to shine some light on this.
The results will eventually be used by Emma towards her Doctorate, and then hopefully a formal presentation of the results and the implications will be given in the near future.
Further information on the important and fascinating work this team does can be found at:
Focus on………. Fungi
Artist’s Fungus- Ganoderma applanatum
The Ganoderma species, can be quite hard to separate, and G. applanatum and G. adspersum and the closely related species are now generally just referred to as G. australe.
Both species are parasites of trees, and are also wood decaying species, and slowly break down the structure of the wood, so it becomes soft and spongy. This type of decay is called a ‘white rot’. As you can see in the right hand picture, this eventually leads to stem failure and the collapse of the tree. The brackets can be quite large and really obvious, but it doesn’t mean that the tree is going to fall over. It all depends on how much decay there is, and where it is.
The brackets themselves are only the fruiting bodies, the main body of the fungus is actually very tiny and living within the wood of the tree itself. Some people sometimes ask us to remove the brackets in the hope that this will stop the decay, but due to the nature of fungi, it doesn’t work. These fungi are absolutely vital in breaking down fallen and dead timber, and are an important part of the woodland ecosystem, so where a tree is not presenting any danger, they should be left to just get on with the job of recycling. Whilst this may seem bad news for the trees, it’s not always. It may seem odd, but sometimes the tree itself benefits as it is able to use the nutrients released by its own decay!!