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

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Deployment of British Tree Surgeons to Hurricane Irma

Last Updated:  21/09/2017

Specialist disaster relief charity DART International UK is now into its third year and building on the success of previous operations in the South Pacific, Asia and West Africa, is preparing to send a response team to the Caribbean to assist with the hurricane IRMA relief effort. The team were due to depart the UK on Wednesday, but due to the predicted impact of Hurricane MARIA in the region, their departure has been delayed until the end of the week.

“The delay is frustrating as our team are now ready to go and anxious to begin work,” explained volunteer Jenny Long. “The present situation in the Caribbean is exactly what we've trained for. We set out with a fairly simple idea of creating an organisation that would help professionals from the UK Arboricultural Industry donate their skills, energy and experience to help clear fallen trees and debris following natural disasters. Clearing roads and other vital infrastructure of fallen trees is always an immediate priority, because it allows rescue organisations and aid agencies to operate more safely and effectively. Local community leaders and volunteers really value the service our teams deliver, but more importantly they've demonstrated a real appetite for learning the skills themselves. From our very first deployment to Vanuatu in 2015, we learned that by delivering training and donating equipment like chainsaws, timber milling equipment and personal protective equipment, we could help rebuild livelihoods and make some of the most vulnerable communities in the world more resilient to future disasters.”

DART responders are all professionally qualified and experienced arborists but also bring a wealth of additional skills with them. Volunteers include paramedics, trainers, engineers, former military personnel, managers and much more; skills that are very relevant to the complex challenges of helping communities to recover from a natural disaster. They will be leaving their families for a 2 week deployment and will be self sufficient on the ground, bringing with them all that they need to carry out their work.

Thanks to the generosity of these volunteers, their families as well as our sponsors and supporters, our Charity is almost entirely financed from within the UK Arborist Industry. There's a strong tradition of small, specialist, UK charities carrying out valuable work all over the world and DART is proud to represent the professionalism of the Arborist Industry as part of the Caribbean international disaster relief and reconstruction effort.

You can follow the team's progress on their website or social media pages