The Victorian Tree Industry Organisation’s (VTIO) Arbor Camp 2019 returned to Pax Hill, Scout Camp, Ballarat where once again we were well hosted by Greg Weiner and the local scout groups.
Students from Melbourne Polytechnic, Holmesglen TAFE and Wadonga TAFE made use of the site for their practical classes on the Thursday prior to the start of Arbor Camp. We are really pleased tree schools from around Victoria are engaging with us and look forward to working closer with them to ensure we deliver a product that provides students not only a great educational experience, but does so in manner that introduces them to networking opportunities throughout the industry.
Friday morning started off with a presentation from WorkSafe Victoria. A recent fatality in the vegetation management sector has, unfortunately, once again brought into focus inherent dangers in our industry and Claire Franklin and Brendan Baker came along to talk through some safety issues our industry faces. We were also reminded of the Occupational Health and Safety Essentials Program, a free service where WorkSafe Victoria funds an independent consultant to assist with improving your safety processes.
Next up we were extremely lucky to host Mike Ellison, who had a small window between running Quantified Tree Risk Assessment workshops in Melbourne and Sydney. Mike led a walk through the lower sections of the camp, speaking to the many aspects of tree features that we should consider when assessing trees. The holistic nature of Mike’s approach asks us to consider the many benefits of the tree, rather than focusing on the unlikely worst case scenario. It isheartening to see that, as an industry, we are moving away from the hazard-led approach to tree assessment and moving into an assessment process that includes looking at the benefits of the tree when informing management practices.
Everybody’s favourite physiotherapist, David Hall, got us up and moving with a series of thought provoking statements that asked us to assess our mental health and ways we can improve our mental wellbeing. We heard from the group that, especially when working in a team environment, constantly touching base with each other and maintaining a dialogue does much to lift the spirits of the individual worker. Many said that when they worked with an engaged crew they believed they worked in a more productive and safer work place.
Grant Harris from Ironbark Environmental Arboriculture talked through the science that supports the creation of urban habitat hollows. Grant showed us the standard nest box and a reclaimed hollow and discussed the differences between the two. As our industry increases the use of habitat hollows, so too does our understanding of the effectiveness of the different methods. Urban habitat creation is a really exciting development in our industry and, I can assure you, VTIO will be looking at providing professional development on this in an ongoing capacity.
Maja Blasch made a much appreciated journey down from Canberra to experience the comradery of Arbor Camp and demonstrate some of the latest tree work devices and then supervised a few climbers interested in trying them out. Maja detailed the benefits and negatives of each piece of equipment in a really engaging manner that was well appreciated by the audience. A special thanks to Cannings/ATRAES for the loan of the equipment and Alana Murray for the on-ground assistance.
Saturday morning started off with Bambra Park ‘Agroforester’ Rowan Reid talking through the experience of growing timber products in Victoria’s South-West. Rowan has been growing trees for around 40 years and has developed a market for his wood products from ice-cream stick to guitar fretboards, he even grows shitake mushrooms of off-cuts from Oak trees. The breath of his operation is as remarkable as his knowledge of tree establishment. Anyone interested in learning more about Rowan’s projects should consider attending a tour of his farm or reading his recently released book ‘Heartwood’, both can be found at www.agroforestry.net.au
Anne Gleeson is VTIO’s go-to person when it is grammar with which it is an issue we are having. Anne runs GAPS Professional Writing Group and talked us through the basics of setting out a coherent argument when drafting our reports. Anne’s thoughtful approach to clear and precise language, and a ‘less is more’ approach, is well appreciated. We’ll be seeing more of Anne over the next few years.
The Speciality Trees’ Formative Pruning Challenge, as always, proved to be popular with the crowd, with more participants than secateurs. Hamish Mitchell once again put in a huge effort to travel the trees used to and from his farm in Narre Warren. Hamish scoped the project by demonstrating the end result he was after; which was heavily influenced by Ed Gillman’s teachings. Rowan Reid helped judge and talked about how the process for formative pruning trees for agroforestry was completely different to that used for amenity tees. This was a really enjoyable competition for all involved and selecting the winners is always difficult.
Paul Ryle finished of the official program with a demonstration of old fashioned woodworking techniques. Paul transported us back to the days of bodgers, benchman and framers. Paul made some spoons for the presenters last year and this year he showed us the process for making wooden spoons. I’m amazed he has all his fingers, but as he explained, if you follow the right process, then the work is really safe. Which takes us back to the theme from WorkSafe, following safe work practices is the best thing we can do to make sure we get home each night.