Monday saw a day of heads down admin work- not as much fun as being out in the woods- but unfortunately necessary!
Tuesday I met up with Fearghas Powell from Glendale, it looks like he is almost finished, all we have to do now is go through his work in nit- picking detail, to ensure everything is complete. It’s looking like after 18 months, congratulations are (almost) in order.
Wednesday and Thursday were spent up country, helping to develop the next stage of the apprenticeship. At present the new apprenticeship has an outline of what is required to be delivered, but I joined a group of people from various colleges and from forestry and arb backgrounds, to put some detail to the specification. We are putting a lot of time and effort into drafting specimen tests, and making sure that they cover the bases as far as the training and assessment requirements are concerned.
It is important to get this right, most of these tests will be carried out at the end of the apprenticeship, they have to reflect what the apprentices have done and studied over those two years, and they need to test the actual underpinning knowledge they have gained, and the practical skills they have developed.
Friday, was meetings with employers to see how our new cohorts are performing- and so far all seems to be going well!!
As is always the case with trees and treework, it doesn’t fit so neatly into a week- over the weekend I had to deal with a small problem!
Chainsaw bars and engines come in lots of different sizes, everything from tiny 10” carving bars to 8 foot and above for larger timber. This one is around four feet long, and the saw body has a 120cc engine, and is big enough to go across the diameter of the timber. A lot of people think that as tree surgeons, we like to carry the biggest chainsaw we can. Actually the opposite is true- these big saws are very heavy and unwieldy, and they put a lot of strain on your back and arms. The smaller the saw you can get away with the better for your body!
Part of the problem for this tree was this:
This is Ganoderma australe. It is a ‘bracket’ fungus, meaning that the fruiting bodies of this species grow in this plate like form. Some species are hard brackets and some are softer. Some only last briefly, and some are perennial as in this case.
They can persist for years, and you can see how the fungus produces another pore layer over successive seasons. The most recent one is at the bottom.
This species can be difficult to tell apart from Ganoderma adspersum, most people in the tree world just call it ‘Ganoderma’ and leave it at that. There are some ways you can try to separate them, and in this case I have cut through a bracket, to reveal the colour of the flesh inside. It is a deep reddish brown colour, and quite thick. If this was G. applanatum, the flesh would be a milky coffee colour.
Our apprentices are going to have to be able to identify these fungi, they won’t get the luxury of just saying ‘Ganoderma’!!
Both species have the same effect on the wood, and as you can see top left, has been turned to a pale coloured mush. The lignin has been removed, leaving the softer, paler cellulose, and therefore the wood didn’t have the rigidity to withstand the loading of either the crown, or the extra loading caused by the wind.
Part of this tree had initially failed some weeks ago due to storm Brian and the softening of its supporting stem. This left the remaining tree very heavily weighted on one side and susceptible to collapse.
It is a great shame to see such a lovely old timer come down, but all hope for a future for this tree is not lost.
Although I have removed the bulk of the broken branches, there is a small amount of root system still intact, and some branches that could become a new crown. We are going to leave the now stable remaining stem where it is, and hopefully a ‘phoenix tree’ will sprout from the wreckage of the old one.
Too many old trees are dismembered simply for having the audacity, in old age, to have a bit of a lie down. With some careful management, this centuries old specimen, can live on for some time, albeit looking a bit different. There are all sorts of communities on this tree, fungi, lichens, ferns, beetles etc that have taken centuries to develop.
Not all of them will survive this change of orientation, but a lot will, so it is well worthwhile preserving what we can of this valuable ancient ecosystem.