A day at conference

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arboricultural Association.

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Posted: 17/01/2020 | 0 comments

Foundation member Joe Robson shares his thoughts on Monday at conference and what he will take back to the day job from the presentations he attended.

I chose well when I decided to attend Monday’s session at the Crown & Canopy Management Conference as a break from the day job. It proved to be an informative set of sessions with engaging speakers exploring topics that complemented each other well.

Tree Population Management and Canopy Cover

Cecil Konijnendijk warned of over-reliance on canopy cover targets in urban forest planting projects. He argued that factors including aftercare, appropriate species and planting sites, and public consultation can often be forgotten if one is focused merely on a planting target. A balanced approach is required which takes into account both quantity and quality. Whilst canopy cover targets can grab decision makers’ attention and capture public imagination, ultimately as professionals we should strive to pull all relevant information together in order to deliver a project which stands the test of time and is providing a public benefit well after the trees have been planted and the decision makers have moved on.

Bryan Cosgrove explained how he had put some of what Cecil talked about into practice when he and his team used canopy cover targets in order to begin a large planting project in Greater Manchester. i-Tree surveys were used in combination with illustrative maps showing high pollution zones. These areas were prioritised to focus on higher risk assets such as those areas in close proximity to schools. Bryan’s team were able to produce a woodland strategy which used canopy cover targets in order to grab the attention of decision makers whilst having high quality information to back up these targets. This should ensure that when the project is delivered it provides a substantial long-term benefit to the public.

Australian Paul Barber and Robert Northrop of Tampa, Florida explained how they do it – using LiDAR, UAVs and 3D modelling mainly! Paul went into the mechanics of how he uses some of these technologies in order to complete i-Tree-style surveys on a mass scale in short amounts of time. He illustrated how these tools can be used by arborists in order to make a stronger case to decision makers concerning urban forest management. Robert then gave a talk on how he and his team at the University of Tampa use technologies such as those described by Paul in order to fulfil a canopy cover target imposed by the local authority in Tampa – ‘no net loss in canopy cover’. Clearly this is a difficult thing to measure city-wide but every five years Robert and his team do just that and urban forest management for the city is altered accordingly.

Annabel Buckland then spoke on urban canopy cover change in the UK. By using historic aerial photographs and maps and comparing them with more recent ones and then data gathered via an ongoing Citizen Science project, she has been able to measure canopy change in various UK cities. Using this information she will be able to measure how canopy cover in specific areas across Britain has changed for better or worse and therefore better inform future urban planting projects. In order to get involved in this project and provide information regarding your local area just follow this link: http://bit.ly/2PT8Mlo To my mind these speakers showed how a big tagline or target can be used to get a ball rolling whilst professionals use appropriate technologies to gather accurate information which is essential in achieving these targets in a coherent and sensible manner.

Natural Function

The remaining Monday speakers’ areas of expertise provided delegates who specify and carry out contracting works with practical information which could inform their decision making.

Duncan Slater gave an update on his research on tree forks and made the point that the specialised fibres which make up a branch junction can in fact be defined as reaction wood and therefore possess the specialised characteristics associated with it. This assertion challenges the concept that ‘big ears’ are necessarily a likely failure point; rather they are a sign that a large amount of reaction wood has formed around a defect.

Luke Steer presented on tree physiology, reminding delegates how pruning practices are likely to affect a tree for better or worse – even when BS3998’s rule of thirds is followed.

Ana Perez-Sierra gave an extensive talk concerning her experiences of six years in Forest Research, including some less commonly discussed information on ash dieback (including the non-Fraxinus spp. it has been discovered on – mock privet, narrowleaved mock privet and fringe tree, all Oleaceae).

Finally, Jon Banks showed how chlorophyll fluorescence can be used to investigate tree stress, providing case studies in which visual assessment alone did not give a full picture. He also ran a field study on a later day which I’m told complemented this talk very well.

The day provided a great deal of information which can be applied to the day-to-day work of any tree care professional.