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Firefighters Ready For The Fitness Test

Coffs Harbour forestry firefighters put through their paces ahead of fire season.

Local Forestry Corporation of NSW staff have completed the first stage of their annual fire season preparations, passing tests set to determine if they have the fitness needed for firefighting conditions.

Many Forestry Corporation staff are trained as firefighters and must pass an annual fitness test, which involves walking 3.22 kilometres in less than 30 minutes wearing an 11.3 kilogram vest.

The program saw with 35 firefighters successfully completing the walk in Coffs Harbour recently. Another 21 local staff will also be tested to ensure they are ready for the bushfire season ahead.

Forestry Corporation Protection Supervisor Tom Newby, said coordinating this year’s training in the wake of COVID-19 presented a few challenges.

“Task-based assessment is important to ensure our frontline firefighters are in peak condition and ready to take on the physical rigors of firefighting in the upcoming season,” Mr Newby said.

“However this year presented a few extra challenges, as we had to adapt the process to accommodate COVID-19 protocols.

“Fortunately we could still run the assessment by limiting participants, ensuring social distancing and maintaining hand hygiene and sanitation at all times. “We also introduced electronic data capture, staggered start times and ‘overtaking rules’ to cater for participants walking at different speeds.”

The organisation will also be recruiting for new seasonal firefighters in coming weeks to support bushfire preparations.

“This year presented a few extra challenges, as we had to adapt the process to accommodate COVID-19 protocols.”

Getting ready for the fitness test not only helps firefighting, but it also helps in preventing injuries out in the bush and increasing general wellbeing, Mr Newby said.

“Firefighting is a very difficult job under extreme conditions and staff do it very well. The fitter they can be, the less likelihood there is of an injury,” Mr Newby said.

Local Forestry Corporation staff take their fire-fighting responsibilities seriously and play a crucial role in managing, preventing and fighting fires in the region’s State forests.

“Bushfires are a big risk to our forests and communities — as one of the state’s firefighting agencies, our firefighters are proud to have played an active role in last year’s devastating fires,” Mr Newby said.

“We need to be confident staff are fit and able to manage the physical pressures of the firefront, so fitness tests are a crucial part of our preparation for the official fire season each year, along with scenario-based exercises and a program of hazard reduction burning.”

Forestry Corporation is responsible for more than two million hectares of native and plantation forests and has been formally involved in firefighting for more than 100 years.

The organisation also works in partnership with the Rural Fire Service, National Parks and Wildlife Services, and Fire and Rescue NSW to help limit the impact of fire on forests and communities across the state.

For more information visit www.forestrycorporation.com.au

November 4, 2020 / by / in ,
Green Climber

Whether you are digging, trenching, slashing or dozing, the Green Climber makes mowing a safe job, with no compromises on precision and speed.

Meet the Italian made remote controlled Green Climber that is capable of tackling slopes up to 60 degrees. Green Climber is the ultimate mower to clear and maintain areas on steep, difficult terrain that can be found on roadsides, parks and acreages. Maintaining these areas can require multiple types of costly equipment and in most cases putting the operator in dangerous situations. Green Climber is so much more than a mower with attachments for finish mowing, slashing, trenching, grinding stumps, moving soil or heavy material. Whether you want to mow grass, mulch thick scrub, dig a trench or even grind tree stumps in any sort of terrain, the Green Climber is the machine capable of doing it all.

Thanks to the extendable undercarriage tracks and low centre of gravity, the Green Climber’s unbelievable grip on the terrain allows it to tackle steep gradients with ease, resulting in a safe job executed with speed and precision.

As a result, safety-conscious maintenance companies and councils across Australia are investing in Green Climbers to help them tackle those challenging areas. The operator can safely operate the remote from up to 100 metres away, allowing them to clear areas beside highways and other high traffic areas without closing off lanes and disrupting traffic flow. The remote-control system operates start/stop of the engine, engine revs, forward/ reverse, steering, and all the hydraulic functions on the machine and the attachment.

Furthermore, it has a self-correcting steering system, that, in the event of very steep slopes can be used to correct the direction. All movements are controlled by a single joystick, allowing operators to have a free hand to use for other machine commands.

Book a test drive – take the controls and see for yourself how tough this versatile machine is.

For more information or to arrange a demonstration call 1800 088 567.

February 24, 2020 / by / in , ,
Platform Sales Australia

As successful contractors are well aware, highly versatile equipment designed to provide higher utilisation, being fully transportable and able to work in tighter areas will not only increase productivity but also provide the best ROI.

This focus – especially when combined with the added stability and safety of a spider lifts, truck-mounted lifts and alike – is where Platform Sales has been adding huge value for its customers across a range of industry, through their unique equipment and an extensive team of Australia wide highly trained and qualified service engineers.

Scissor and boom lifts all have their place but they don’t give you everything and after 40 years of combined experience the team of Andrew Satterley (as Operations Manager) and David Collins (as Director) of Platform Sales Australia have had the boots on the ground for long enough to realise that the key to embracing long-term success with contractors looking to purchase or hire equipment is by enhancing productivity, through offering a broad yet extremely specific range of machines, across the various height requirements of various industries, from a range of hand-selected manufacturers who produce the best machine from each class.

It is a passion that has motivated Platform Sales to cast their net far and wide in search of better solutions for businesses looking for greater efficiency, utilisation and enhanced safety. A prime example of this is the way the Arborist Industry has embraced the CTE Traccess Spider Lift range. As good climbers today, can be very hard to find, the ability to provide a safer option that allows areas that previously only the best climbers could access to be easily achieved by the use of a spider lift means business can significantly improve the volume of work achievable on any given day without the risk previously involved.

David explained that Platform Sales, which is based in Taren Point, Sydney, had originally commenced operations after becoming the first retail sales agency for Genie Australia. Shortly thereafter, the company had commenced dealing with CTE, and this was in turn closely followed by the establishment of a partnership with Palazzani.

 

“We were one of the first internet-based EWP sales companies to provide a broad range of equipment to all sectors of business in Australia,” David told AA of Platform’s initial establishment in the local marketplace.

A wide-ranging product portfolio Twelve years on, Platform Sales now presides over 250 different models, sourced from around the world – with its range having since expanded to encompass JLG, Skyjack and Haulotte products – and services a range of customers, with its machines catering to a broad spectrum of uses, from heavy industry to light commercial applications.

Platform Sales product portfolio includes material lifts, trailer lifts, boom lifts, truck-mounted aerial platforms, scissor lifts, mast lifts, spider lifts and a range of accessories, including Lodax outrigger pads, and is backed by an extensive after-sales service network throughout Australia.

“Scissor And Boom Lifts All Have Their Place, But They Don’t Give The Arbor Industry A Total Solution.”

“Our EWP product range today has been built on our customer’s needs and dealing with only the best manufacturers in their respective areas,” David explained.

“We seek to supply Australian businesses with a high degree of hire-based performance and reliability across all of the EWP machines in our portfolio, from self-propelled scissor lifts and booms to truck-mounted towers and the more specialised spider lifts, that will provide the most versatile investment.”

Platform Sales prides itself on combining its depth of industry knowledge, with understanding its customers’ requirements and needs and it is this philosophy that is put to use in determining what machines are best suited to each individual customers’ respective requirements, encompassing prioritising reliability and performance, and seeking to reduce the overall cost of ownership.

“Equipment designed for purpose, such as Arbor work will provide for maximum productivity, cost savings and increased profits for those investing in today’s market,” David observed.

“Realising the importance of functionality and versatility, we strive to show our customers the best options to gain the maximum benefit from their investment – and, with our key selected manufacturers, we supply a range that is broad and proven to perform in the demanding Australian market.”

Keeping It Simple, The Key

David noted that having the opportunity to evaluate the machine market in Europe had ultimately demonstrated the importance of a simple approach to machine design, which is perfect for operating in Australia’s unique conditions.

“I believe that keeping it simple is the key,” he said. “Machine make-up, like boom configuration, size, weight, footprint and performance, are all key components of better design, along with the simplicity, especially from an electronics point of view.

“An over-technical machine can and will be problematic in Australia. We want a simple, Tonka-tough approach to the equipment we use in Australia.”

In assessing Platform’s progress over the years, David pointed to the importance of experience, encompassing an ability to understand industry needs and connect with customers, as being a key factor.

“We believe our experience in the Arbor industry and the long-term partnerships we have formed have been the key to our success,” he told AA. “We have always focused on providing the best solutions, designed to increase productivity while reducing the costs of business and ensuring our customers and their staff are safe.”

Call 1300 882 762.

For more information visit www.platformsales.com.au 

January 23, 2020 / by / in , , ,
Chippers, Training And Skills Shortages

Skill shortages, predictions of growth of the arboricultural industry and high standards both in training and work practices are the ‘hot’ topic of this summer issue.

As I write this, here comes 2020 along with summer heat, storms and at last some much-needed rain. At Training For Trees we are busy with our current cohort of students and fitting everything in before the big fella aka Santa arrives with a sack full of goodies!

Hopefully, after last month’s edition, you have had a chance to consider your pruning standards and practices and that you continue to realise that you are part of a profession which is a bit like a family, made up from some of the most wonderful individuals involved in the arboricultural industry the world over. Generally, they all have one thing in common and that is their strong values and opinions and, while they may not always agree with each other, they all care about trees.

The exciting news is that over the next few years our industry is predicted to grow immensely and, as a result of this growth, it has been identified that there will be a major shortage of skilled individuals available to fill these jobs that will be created within the industry.

This skills shortage has been recognised as significant and arboriculture is recognised and supported by government, within certain circumstances, with some quite significant incentives to both apprentice and employers to encourage development of the workforce.

As a result of this increased recognition, there is now a lot more research and interest in continuing to develop professional standards and practices and this has encouraged more individuals to volunteer and contribute their time, along with considerable knowledge and advice to the departments and organisations responsible for developing safety standards, advisory publications and training packages.

This can only be good for the industry and helps to enable high standards of training and assessment to be set and maintained.

Remember that training packages along with the individual units of competency they endorse are designed to meet the needs of industry and set the required standards.

It is great to see that this latest update has had a lot of technical experts putting their advice to good use and has seen more involvement and input than ever before.

I have been involved with arboricultural training package advisory and technical reference groups involving training packages and standards for the past ten years and am pleased to see the increase in skilled individuals willing to be involved to review, debate and comment on these important issues, to advise the skills service organisation and ensure that what is collated and proposed is valid and workable and meets current requirements of industry.

Remember, the industry standards and requirements are always being updated and industry requirements are reflected in the units of competency that depict the standard required to deem competence in the required task.

This ensures they have been through a long and arduous process of development and have been nationally mandated by industry to ensure training and assessment is able to be completed at the required standard throughout Australia.

All credit to the individuals who have attended countless meetings, industry consultation, and teleconferences, usually undertaking many hours of phone calls and emails, mostly outside of normal business hours.

Feedback from interested persons is considered along with sometimes heated debates and passionate individuals have fought tooth and nail towards the greater good which, overall, is to the benefit of training and education within the Australian arboricultural industry.

The information is collated and published by the industry Skills Service Organisations compiled into the required training package and put forward for national endorsement, prior to the final publication and implementation.

Safe work Australia has released a free to download document for industry titled “A guide to managing risks in the tree trimming industry”.

This document is one of the latest and quite comprehensive Australian publications designed to provide guidance regarding all things health and safety that has been produced for our industry and is extremely useful regarding guidance for managing WHS obligations within our industry.

Industry has also invested in a series of guides that are being developed designed to advise on practical industry tasks and their recommended outcomes.

They are branded by the publisher as minimum industry standards and are a useful tool to reference industry best practice.

Qualifications

Tree owners are becoming better educated and are demanding quality work carried out to Australian standards and increasingly are asking to see evidence of qualifications, including the subject lists undertaken as well as proof of adequate insurance, prior to engaging a contractor.

Australian tree care associations are now operating registers of qualified members consultants and tree care companies, which is encouraging workers to get their skills checked out and begin the process of attaining training and qualifications, updating and consolidating skills already held and looking to carry out all works according to Australian standards and industry best practice.

Within the current OHS legislation, there is a general obligation for persons in the workplace to act with diligence which is a pretty open ended term, placing obligations on everyone, while they are at work, including employers, the self-employed and employees, with the general requirement to carry out their duties as responsible operators. It is also a requirement that all workers are trained in their roles and deemed competent and current in their required skills.

One way to demonstrate compliance with these requirements is to attend regular training and updating to maintain and improve skill levels.

Regular refresher and update training and assessment programs to suit relevant skills as required are offered by us at Training For Trees.

Once a competency or qualification has been attained, refreshers are a good way to ensure that the qualifications are kept up to date with the latest requirements and this is an effective way to ensure that any bad habits that may have crept in can be identified and rectified with further training recommended and carried out as required.

You must carry out a risk assessment on site before any works commence.

Control measures should include taking note of any work site issues, emergency procedures, the surroundings, exclusion zones, public access roads and any other issues that may be raised during the assessment.

There should be a plan of operation agreed upon and most importantly communicate these items to all personnel on site.

Chippers and Safety Rules

Unfortunately, we are still hearing of accidents involving brushwood chippers, with severe consequences, and it seems all too common that exclusion zones have not been established, or that safety features have been disabled or are not functioning correctly, or the issue was caused by entanglement with ropes getting fed into the machine.

If a rope inadvertently gets fed into the machine while it is operating, usually it will wind in around the cutting mechanism extremely quickly and if the rope is attached to a portawrap, it will pull tight and we have seen reports of injuries that have included limbs almost severed by the force of the rope cutting into them.

If the rope is attached to the climber then the outcome would be even worse!

These incidents are generally caused by a lack of planning and preparation on the worksite.

I have included a few points for consideration, but the list is not intended to be used as a substitute for training and assessment.

Operating A Machine

  • Only allow trained operators to use the machine
  • Ensure the operator manual is affixed to the machine and all operators are familiar with it
  • Set up on site with appropriate signage to enable appropriate exclusion zone to be established
  • Undertake a risk assessment and comply with SWMS
  • Keep all ropes a safe distance from the machine (in rope bags)
  • Operate at correct engine speed
  • Position discharge chute correctly and check security of all guards
  • Only one operator to feed the machine at a time in sequence
  • Organise feeding so that each operator leaves clear for the next
  • Keep area clear around feed hopper, rake up frequently
  • Don’t stand directly behind the machine, feed from the side
  • Don’t leave machine running unattended
  • Shut machine down when tree work operations are underway to allow communication and reduce chances of feeding in ropes accidently
  • Use a push stick for the shorter off cuts or feed another long branch to carry them in, do not reach into the feed hopper with hands or feet
  • Do not exceed machine capacity
  • If machine becomes blocked, shut down correctly and remove keys allow to reach a complete standstill lock out and clear

When winching

  • When winching ensure operators are trained
  • Use appropriate communication
  • Maintain a safe position to operate the control
  • Keep hands and feet clear
  • Use approved rigging techniques
  • Use correctly matched hardware such as slings and pulleys check the WLL of all components
  • Keep all persons clear of the danger zones
  • Prior to leaving the site check that all loose debris is removed from the machine and that the discharge chute is correctly and securely stowed

Do Chipper Operators Need A Ticket?

WHS states that persons must be adequately trained, a nationally recognised statement of attainment such as FWPHAR2206 Operate a mobile chipper mulcher would ensure approved training and assessment has been carried out.

Don’t Forget: Chipper Training And Certification

The competency unit FWPHAR2206 Operate a mobile chipper/ mulcher is a nationally recognised competency unit that covers use of these machines.

Operators that are trained and certificated will have a greater understanding in the operation and maintenance of these machines and the end result will be seen in the standard of pruning and operation even regular operators can benefit greatly from training and updating their techniques.

It’s really important to update your certification levels regularly over time as new techniques and standards are developed and updated fairly often. It is recommended that regular updates are carried out and documented.

All qualifications need to be maintained as current and the best way to maintain currency is to have a refresher update in the unit of competency and receive an update certificate.

Refreshers are generally carried out in a shorter time frame than a full training course consisting of an assessment and update of current skill levels which generally picks up and corrects any bad habits that may have crept in over time.

The modern world of arboriculture is a far cry from the days that we just felt lucky to be doing a job using big noisy equipment and lifting heavy things!

Making the effort and spending the time to study and achieve the relevant arboricultural qualifications will lead you on a lifelong journey in one of the most diverse industries I know and build you a skill base that you can use anywhere in the world.

To be able to work as a qualified person within the arboricultural industry, general requirements are that you will complete an apprenticeship and achieve the AHC30816 Certificate III in Arboriculture which is currently accepted as the minimum industry standard requirement to be able to be considered as a trade level qualified working arborist.

The pathway to achieve the Certificate in Arboriculture qualification involves the completion of 23 industry endorsed units of competency that have been engineered approved and nationally mandated by industry working groups and government funded skills organisations.

Take the Pathway to the Diploma of Arboriculture

Once you have achieved the Certificate III in Arboriculture or want to consolidate and recognise your industry experience, the next step is to continue to progress within the arboricultural industry and to follow the pathway from trade level / working arborist and take it to the next level by undertaking the AHC50516 Diploma of Arboriculture.

To achieve this qualification you will begin a journey that will see you develop and gain an intimate and considerable working tree knowledge, you will be educated through face-to-face training and assessment, resulting in the completion of the 10 nationally recognised industry endorsed units of competency making up the Diploma that have been engineered approved and nationally mandated by industry working groups and government funded skills organisations to ensure that achieving this qualification will enable you to operate with the highest standards with the required skills as a Business owner, lead arborist, tree officer arboricultural manager or consulting arborist in the arboricultural industry.

At TFT we believe the message is finally getting through regarding the importance of training and qualification and the benefits that it can bring to everyone including the trees.

Make an effort to take ownership of your learning both at work and in your own time. Even when you are dragging branches to the chipper you could be learning about trees. How do they look, how heavy are they? What colour is the timber what other features do you notice? A tried and tested process that we at TFT have been suggesting for several years now is proving to be so true regarding the almost everyday question we get from employers which is:

“We need a new groundie, climber or consulting arborist to join our operation.”

New workers don’t grow on trees unfortunately but if you want to have reliable professional staff you have to be prepared to invest in them.

The government has realised the skills shortage and the importance of our industry and there is considerable support for organisations that are investing in and training their staff.

One of the best sources for new staff, often overlooked, is that some of the best new recruits could actually come from within your company, where a current employee is encouraged and supported to step up to the plate and develop new skills while to some extent learning on the job and continuing to earn their keep at the same time.

When this process is coupled with the journey through the arboricultural Certificate III or the Diploma qualifications and you are prepared to work with your trainee and their training organisation, the outcome is a well-rounded competent and qualified staff member that is a real asset to your business.

We at TFT recommend employing as many new recruits as you are able to support but bear in mind that supervision is recommended to be one qualified worker to one apprentice.

Various incentives are available to assist employers and students that are eligible. Training in general could tend to slow things on the work site down a little initially, although as your apprentice makes progress through the training, they will steadily begin to repay your investment in their future by becoming more useful and able to operate more efficiently within your company.

By the time they graduate they will probably go on to become your next lead climber crew leader or manager and could also be helping to train your next apprentice to keep your company evolving.

If your apprentice decides to leave and move on once they are qualified then at least you will have had some return on your investment, while they were employed with you and if you get the balance right then there will always be upcoming apprentices that will keep the cycle flowing giving you access to staff that already know your business and systems that will continue to provide a return on the investment you have made in them.

Training is as important as the servicing of vehicles and machinery. After all, workers are the machinery that you run and need to maintain to enable the smooth operation of your business.

At TFT we conduct the majority of our training and assessment at our modern training centre with access to in house trainer assessors, all the required up to date tools and equipment, local worksites and resources.

We take our students on a journey which begins with their enrolment and continues through the individual units of competency that collectively make up the qualification with regular face to face classroom sessions issuing of assignments to be completed in the workplace and working with the selfemployed persons looking for a career and employers to ensure they are progressing efficiently and meeting their performance requirements.

We are also able to travel and deliver and assess within the workplace if required.

Training For Trees is a privately registered training organisation (RTO). We are completely independent and are not auspiced, attached to or operating under the direction or licence of any other RTO or parent company which means we are able look after our students and employers at every step of their journey and beyond.

It has been proven that independent training and assessment increases staff retention safety awareness productivity and efficiency.

Remember to schedule in regular refresher and update training sessions. If you want to be officially classified as a qualified arborist you will need to complete the appropriate level of qualification:

  • AHC30816 Certificate III in Arboriculture

Or

  • AHC50516 Diploma of Arboriculture

“Safety Rules”

Check out your eligibility for funding. Enrol now for the next intake Certificate III Arboriculture and Diploma. Now booking chainsaw courses running regularly (all levels), EWP Licence, First Aid, Working at heights, Chipper, Stump grinder, Pole saw and AC/DC. Contact us for your qualifications, short courses VOC, RPL and refresher training. Train with us and leaf qualified.

See our website www.trainingfortrees.com.au for details or email [email protected]

December 22, 2019 / by / in , , ,
Time To Refinance

Is It Time To Refinance Your Home Loan?

Fitzpatrick Financial Services would like to share a number of common reasons why mortgage holders refinance their home loans.

  1. Accessing Equity

If you have a financing requirement (i.e. renovations, car, machinery), then cashing out equity held in your property could be something to consider

  1. Property Value Has Risen

If your property’s value has risen, your equity will have also increased. Lenders may now be willing to offer you lower rates.

  1. Improved Business Performance

Higher income may make you a lower-risk borrower, which could mean you can access better deals.

  1. Consolidating Other Debts

You might want to check whether it could be cheaper to consolidate high-interest debts (i.e. personal loans and credit cards) into your home loan to save interest and reduce your overall repayments.

  1. Fixed-Rate Period Is Ending

Upon expiry, your fixed rate may roll onto a variable interest rate that isn’t competitive. This may be the perfect time to review your home loan.

  1. Interest-Only Period Ending

Are you prepared for a significant increase in your repayments? If you are ready to revert to principal and interest repayments, most lenders will offer lower rates.

Must-Knows About Refinancing

Refinancing Costs Money

You will need to assess the potential savings versus the cost of switching lenders to make the best decision for you. Due to strong competition in the market, many lenders offer incentives to refinance to them, such as a cash-back offer, which may help offset some (or all) of the switching costs.

You Don’t Need To Do This Alone

Negotiating loan terms is difficult if you don’t know all the ins and outs of lending. Consider seeking expert help from a mortgage broker before making any decisions. The team at the associate company Fitzpatrick Financial Services specialise in all areas of lending, including refinancing.

If you suspect it’s time to refinance your loan, don’t hesitate to contact Tim Sheehan at Fitzpatrick Financial Services on (03) 8544 1600

For more information email at [email protected]  or visit www.fitzpatrick.com.au.

November 27, 2019 / by / in , , , ,
Giant Pine Scale

As you are aware, giant pine scale impacts pine, fir and spruce trees and has been found on 162 properties with over 4,300 infested trees in the south east suburbs of Melbourne.

As part of the Victorian government’s response, infested rees were chemically treated. It has been determined that these treatments have only been partially effective and live scale insects remain on treated trees. The National Management Group, Australia’s key technical body for coordinating national responses to emergency plant pests and diseases, has determined that it is no longer technically feasible to eradicate giant pine scale. It is still important to exercise good hygiene practices when working on host trees to prevent any further spread of the plant pest and to protect Australia’s $1.16 billion softwood industry.

The assistance from companies and individuals from associated industries during the response phase has been critical in the efforts to limit the spread of this pest. Your co-operation during this phase is greatly appreciated.

If you suspect there is giant pine scale on any trees that have not already been identified and tagged by Agriculture Victoria  please report the detection to Agriculture Victoria by phoning 136 186 or emailing  [email protected]

More info about giant pine scale is available at www.vic.gov.au/giantpinescale.

November 7, 2019 / by / in , , ,
Qualified Arborists In High Demand

Skills shortages are an ongoing issue for industry, and in this new series we are seeking to gain an understanding of the current employment landscape and explore the options available for employers.

Ensuring there are enough qualified arborists coming through the ranks is a continuing challenge for industry, with skills shortages likely to remain a pressing issue for employers for the foreseeable future.

In short, employers should do all they can to retain skilled workers, with labour market analysis demonstrating the scope of challenges faced.

A Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business (formerly the Department of Jobs and Small Business) occupation report reveals that, amid an ongoing trend of shortages, the labour market for arborists tightened significantly last year, with the lowest proportion of vacancies filled on record.

  • Around 15 per cent of vacancies were filled, a figure well down on previous years, with some of the key takeaways from the department research being:
  • The 15 per cent vacancy fill rate compares with 28 per cent in 2017 and 29 per cent in 2016
  • There was an average of 4.6 applicants per vacancy, down from 7.3 applicants in 2017 and 5.6 in 2016
  • Of the applicants, 34 per cent were qualified

The department advises that all employers sought Certificate III qualifications in arboriculture, which many stated was necessary to meet government contract requirements, with most seeking arborists with good physical fitness and at least one-to-two years of experience.

How do we compare with overseas markets?

The Australian arboriculture industry is by no means alone in experiencing issues related to labour shortages.

In the US, the Tree Care Industry Association has been advocating for visa reform, with it noting that “industry is facing a huge labour shortage”.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook refers to arborists as “tree trimmers and pruners”, with its figures revealing:

  • There were 54,500 tree trimmers and pruners employed in 2016
  • Employment is projected to grow 12 per cent from 2016 to 2026, at a rate faster than the average for all occupations

As with its US counterparts, Australian industry has been looking overseas in seeking to recruit qualified arborists.

The department’s occupation report notes many employers stated, due to a lack of suitable domestic applicants, they had recruited qualified arborists from the UK in previous years, however these employers also noted recruitment difficulties have increased due to a reduction in overseas applicants.

What’s the outlook?

The department report notes new occupation supply remains below levels recorded in 2014, while there are signs demand has continued to grow.

Internet advertised vacancies for the broad gardeners occupational group (including arborists) grew by 50 per cent over the five years to September 2018, compared to 24 per cent growth for all occupations.

It is, however, worth noting that in the year to September 2018 gardener vacancies increased by 6 per cent, compared to 7.5 per cent for all occupations.

Arboriculture and horticulture apprenticeship and traineeship completions have remained steady over the past three years, as opposed to a significant increase between 2012 and 2014, with completions having returned to previous levels.

Meanwhile, apprenticeship commencements have declined, which the department notes suggests new training supply will unlikely significantly mitigate shortages in the near future.

The department advises that arborists and gardeners employment is projected to grow by 14 per cent over the five years to May 2023, compared to 7.1 per cent growth for all occupations.

Our next instalment in this series will explore what employers can do to build a champion team in a challenging labour market, including how to attract strong applicants and how to retain staff.

November 3, 2019 / by / in , , ,
Light And Powerful Husqvarna’s New T525

Husqvarna’s new T525 – making light work of all your trimming jobs.

Husqvarna introduces a new petrol top handle chainsaw for arborists, one of the lightest on the market.

Like every other chainsaw Husqvarna makes, the T525 has powerful performance that professional users appreciate, but perhaps the greatest advantage is the level of engine performance packed into a lower weight saw. This means improved productivity, since power and performance are not sacrificed for a lighter product, and users can cut with less strain on the body, another important benefit for tree care professionals.

With quick acceleration built-in and Husqvarna’s signature X-Torq® engine, ensuring higher power output compared to other tree care saws, the T525 is designed for tree care professionals who want maximum productivity with minimum downtime. X-Torq® also means improved fuel efficiency and lower levels of exhaust emissions.

Features for working in the tree

Reliability is another important factor for tree care specialists, particularly when working high up in a tree. A durable and easy-to-access belt eyelet allows the saw to be quickly connected to and disconnected from a climbing harness. A side-mounted chain adjuster with retained bar nut allows professionals to easily adjust and tension the chain while up in the tree. The spring-assisted start allows for lower pull force, meaning less effort is required to start the engine, and the auto return stop switch means the saw is always ready to start.

The Husqvarna T525 is available to purchase from your local Authorised Husqvarna Dealer.

For more information visit www.husqvarna.com

October 10, 2019 / by / in , , , ,
Grand-Border Stressed/Dying Pines

Non-sustainable vegetation management – modern horticultural practice – an industry-driven tree killer?

My apologies to AA readers for holding back on Part 2 of ‘Conservation Arboriculture in Action’. Part 2 is based on a recent Treepeeps PTY LTD advanced tree – tree planting project. At the time of drafting Part 1 (last edition), I had expected for us to have completed the job soon enough to write the Part 2 article. Not so, in the meantime I am sharing this article on tree decline based on non-sustainable land management.

This article is founded on a report I drafted for a S.E. Queensland council. As a professional arborist I have worked contractually and as a consultant all over the world, Australia, PNG, Vanuatu, America, Canada, Germany, Portugal and the United Kingdom. As a traveller I have also explored much of Europe.

All round the world I have seen the same standard of a collective lack of tree care, with most amenity trees seldom living beyond the first 1/3 of their lifespans.

This is because of environmentally non sustainable land management practices – largely driven by horticulture, with nonsustainable development, agriculture and arboriculture driving home the final coffin nails. Few of us have the awareness or the gumption to speak out, let alone the fortitude to make change.

Even in our profession we have enabled industry to direct our cultural practises to do more damage to trees than benefit them, our limited education (i.e. a lack of biology) is also a reflection of an industry drive.

To achieve sustainability enterprise must balance the environment with economy, there can be no shortcut. The model that is current to land based industry around the world is failing.

The following report is a reflection of the kind of horticulture that kills trees Australia wide.

Project – Mossman Park, Stevens Oval and D’Aguilar Highway, Dalby and Jondaryan S.E. QLD.

Following a request from the VACC Parks and Gardens Coordinator – to assess three treed avenues at Mossman Park, Stevens Oval (Dalby) and D’Aguilar Highway (Jondaryan) – I carried out site/ tree assessments on 18/12/18. The scope of the assessment was to ascertain stress factors (on top of drought stress) likely to be causing tree decline and death. With the three sites in mind approximately ¼ of the Pine trees are dead with more dying.

Status Report

The first site assessed was the avenue of trees on Domingo road adjacent to Mossman Park. The trees are a mix of Pinus spp (Pinus radiata or possibly Pinus taeda), Hoop pines (Araucaria cunninghamiana) and Kauri pines (Agathis robusta), though largely Pinus (as requested this report is concerned with the Pinus spp). Though there has been a recent history of drought there had been rainfall before my arrival on site and the soil was well hydrated.

The Pines stand at (on average) 15m tall with an approximate crown spread of 3-5m. The stem diameters (at chest height) average 40cm and the trunk flare diameters (at ground level) are around 60cm. These trees are largely made up of a single main stems, have symmetrical crowns (trunk, branches and canopy) and are approximately aged 30+ years. The Mossman park avenue is made up of approximately 50 trees.

A question has been raised in relation to the trees condition with the long term in mind, the symptoms that bought these trees into consideration involve scattered dieback in the internal foliage of the trees, leading to complete folial/canopy/upper crown death. Study of the Hoop pines and Kauri pines shows that these trees are also showing stress symptoms.

Evidence of Genus, Species and Health

The Pines – (P. radiata or P. taeda) have fair/poor vitality to none – this is evidenced by stunted foliage, leaf size and leaf colour, leading to death evidenced by scattered dieback in the internal foliage of the trees, leading to complete folial/canopy/upper crown death.

Evidence of Crown Structure (relating to biomechanical assessment)

The crown structure of these young trees is fairly standard for the Genera (Pinus, Araucaria and Kauri) which is generally stable even when stressed in my experience of S.E. QLD. Though the focus of this report relates to tree health.

Observations/Discussion – Site Limitations/Herbicide Concerns

The first study site is where I spent the bulk of my time (my observations of that site form the backbone of this report), study of the second two tree avenue sites validated my observations of the Domingo road avenue. Study of the trees in general revealed that the Pine trees are the most sensitive of the avenue trees to the environmental conditions. Though the other tree Genera reveal symptoms that support the decline in the Pines.

The three avenue sites (ref: Fig. 4. and opening image on page 32, Mossman Park, Fig. 6. Stevens Oval, Fig. 7. D’Aguilar Highway) share identical features/symptoms.

  • The trees are roadside with the bulk of their root systems being in adjacent gullies
  • The growing environments are regularly mown lawns
  • All trees have recent evidence of herbicide application within their structural root zones
  • The avenue trees are surrounded by old agricultural land • The soils are heavily compacted (years of transport vehicle, mower and people access)
  • Crown dieback largely in the Pine trees (ref. Figs 2-7.), but also noted in the Hoop pines (ref. Figs 16-21)
  • Most of the trees have mower damaged exposed roots (ref. selection of Figs 8-12)
  • Large swathes of dead lawn was noted, mostly in gully areas between/adjacent to trees (ref. Figs 13-15).

As well as the major symptoms listed above this report details my other observations and reasoning as to why the VACC Pine trees are in decline.

The avenue sites are by their nature problematic as growing conditions for any tree. The soil compaction and lack of nutrient cycling through the soil profile is known to have a significant impact on tree longevity in itself.

But the sustained use of herbicide application and mower damage on structural roots must be considered, mower injuries are similar (on the impact to trees) as perennial cankers in that as soon as tissue is generated by the tree to close the wound it is damaged on the next round of mowing (the same pattern occurs with canker infection or bird damage).

The wound wood being generated by the tree starts of as cambial tissue which may absorb a measure of the herbicide itself, though it is understood that this usually only occurs with the presence of chlorophyll in plant tissue (perhaps not always present in cambial tissue in stems or roots).

Based on my studies and the evolution of Plant Health Care science (ref: Soil Food Web principles – Dr. Elaine Ingham) the key issue that sustained herbicide use has on soils relates to excess salt.

Bituminous road surfaces are know to leach chemical salts (pollutant runoff is also a factor) that impact on soil health. Trees as woody plants need oxygen and microbial association in soils for sustained nutrient exchange, prolonged lawn environments are known to lead to depletion in essential soil microbiology for woody trees. Though the build up of salts and heavy metals are also a key issue with tree health. Figs. 13-15 are indicative of issues below ground with impacts on turf as well as the trees.

Further to my observations of the trees I make reference to observations of the Hoop Pines (ref. Figs. 16 to 21). Study of the Hoop Pines in all three sites revealed symptoms/perceived stressors that need to be discussed. These involved dieback in shooting epicormic growth (mostly shoots generated following lower branch removal ref: Fig. 16) as well as internal dieback (similar to that of the Pines ref: Fig. 18), comparison to other local Hoop pines in surrounding areas showed me trees without these symptoms. I suspect that this is another indicator of site issues below ground, though I believe that management need to carefully consider herbicide application as being a direct impact.

Discussion with fellow consulting Arborists via the Facebook Australian Arborists Network AAN – Brands such as Roundup, Grazon, Conquest, and chemicals Glyphosate, Picloram, Triclopyr, Metsulfuron-methyl, Dicamba have all been cited as having a direct influence on tree poisoning and death.

It has also been discussed within my circles that Hoop pine deaths are attributed to herbicide application.

Pine nematode Another possible factor in the trees decline which requires consideration and elimination is Pine nematode – Bursaphelenchus vallesianus. Outbreaks of Pine Nematode have been recorded in the Sydney region (2016) and are discussed in this document (since publication the nematode has spread north and is now reputed to be in northern NSW State Forest). Check out: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/ plant/insect-pests-and-plant-diseases/ pine-nematodes? fbclid=IwAR1N6O8TK RIS5S3DjaX-ZgDjyhsANxZQO3E6cRUfkpsRJDPB0k1DGEshDk

Study of the above does provide similarities to the dieback symptoms discussed in this report. The nematode impacts on the trees vascular system by forming air pockets which causes death.

The Pine nematode has been discussed as being present on the following Pines:

  • Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis)
  • Austrian pine (Pinus nigra)
  • Common spruce (Picea abies)
  • Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster)
  • Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)
  • Radiata pine (Pinus radiata)
  • Stone pine (Pinus pinea)
  • Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)
  • Turkish pine (Pinus brutia)

The contacts concerning this matter I made where via the Department Of Primary Industries – DPI NSW and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries – QLD who I have alerted to the possible issue of a Pine nematode outbreak, at the time of my completion of this report DAF staff where due to make contact.

For a useful conclusion to be reached there is the need for further investigation, I recommend analysis of the soils for salt and heavy metal levels, I also recommend that Council compile a list of all products that are currently being used for herbicide application (as well as frequency of application) as a means to assess/ eliminate the contributing cause of the tree decline/death. Bearing in mind that the herbicide companies downplay the side effects of the products they sell I am more inclined to pay attention to field experience than the ‘literature’ on this topic.

For Analytical services we recommend Southern Cross University Lismore to assess the sites soils for heavy metals and salts www.scu.edu.au/environmentalanalysis-laboratory—eal/

Concerning the possible outbreak of Pine nematode for the record – all pests and diseases are side effects of site issues that impact on tree health, in the case of trees – site issues impact soils which impact tree vitality (principally a lack of soil oxygen, humus for nutrient cycling and allied micro-organisms that compartmentalise disease causing organisms in the soil). Study of the linked Pine nematode document validates this by stating “Control of pine nematode is limited to prevention”. If the Pine nematode is present this will have to be accounted for but not at the expense of treating the site constraints and the factors that have lead to the cause of the most current problem (note – contact with DPI NSW Biosecurity validated my observation that the Pine nematode is an issue only on stressed trees).

Road side avenues of trees are probably the most sensitive and vulnerable to health limitations, tree death is almost always a result of multiple imposition, good management involves removing or reducing stress factors that impact on trees. Non-sustainable horticultural practices are in my opinion the key constraint that require management input.

As a matter of short term and long term soil/tree health I recommend improving on the avenue trees growing environments by establishing Nutrient Beds (comprised of cold processed composted mulch). To help keep people off the Nutrient Bed and accelerate the assimilation of nutrients (activate the soil root-interface) I also recommend the establishment of a Plant System (plant component of an ecosystem), to help proof the nutrient bed and keep vehicles out (exclusion zone). In the course of establishing a plant system I also recommend vertical inoculation of the trees root zone with Soil Food Web grade cold processed compost – humus (this can be done at the time of planting tube stock vegetation).

Trees which have died are best replaced by Hoop pines which are considerably more tolerant of the site constraints.

The use of herbicide in the trees root zones is a practise that needs to be replaced by a more sustainable means.

Likewise to enable wound wood generation and compartmentalisation of exposed sapwood from root damage and likely inoculation by herbicide – lawn mowers need to be kept out of the tree root zones.

If it is not feasible to establish nutrient beds and plant systems I recommend the planting of rings of sturdy vegetation – such as Lomandra hystrix around the structural root zones of trees (as a minimum) to keep mowers/spray crews out. Grass can be cut to the edge of these plants which even deflect brush cutters. The solution to non-sustainable horticulture is sustainable horticulture, practised by old school horticulturists around the world.

Conclusion

In conclusion with thanks to VACC senior management being responsive to recent rapid tree decline this report is a reflection of symptoms presented by the site and the resident avenue trees.

Following rapid death of Pine trees located within three avenue treed sites in the Grand-Border region at Dalby (*2 sites) and Jondaryan (*1), on behalf of VACC I was commissioned to assess the trees with a view to determining reasons for decline in association with drought.

Modern Arboriculture recognises that tree decline/death is generally caused by multiple factors working against the tree as one.

My 18/12/18 assessment has validated this understanding, the combination of soil compaction, lack of nutrition, drought, mower damage, excess herbicide use, the build-up of salt (in the soil profile) and heavy metals, has lead to excessive stress loading on the Pine trees which are the most sensitive to these site limitations. Arboricultural experience supports the symptoms of rapid tree death to herbicide use (this report has recommended that VACC do an audit on brands/types of herbicide used, as well as frequency of application). Likewise the study of information residual to the symptoms  presented by the trees has revealed that there is a recent outbreak of Pine nematode extending North from Sydney, out of responsibility I notified DAF of the issue and an investigation by the department is now underway (advice relating to the management of Pine nematode is available within the document linked on page 36, Observations/ discussion/Pine nematode).

With prevention of such declines I have recommended the review of horticultural practises, as well as cultural improvement of the sites soils, this is with a view to protecting the Hoop pine population which are more resistant to the issues behind the Pine trees decline and death, I have also recommended replacing the dying Pines with Hoop Pines for this reason. If the sites in question do prove to be infected with Pine nematode a protocol has been established by the DPI for its management, this will need to be considered in relation to advise from DAF.

Post-report conclusion For the sake of this technical feature, I have altered names locations and dates in the report, the photographs and content of the report remain true.

Following the drafting of this report DAF made contact with me to confirm that there was no Pine nematode – Bursaphelenchus vallesianus present in any of the soil profiles they sampled concerning the 3 sites (this report I passed on to the client along with my contacts). When we consider the long term economic and environmental costs of managing trees non-sustainably verses via sustainable systems (post establishment) the benefits are multifaceted. The problem is getting tree and people managers to start. To create the precedent for conservation arboriculture we need good local government support, a challenge when we live in a society that makes an economy from being non-sustainable, such as via repetitious herbicide use.

With sustainable tree management in mind Conservation Arboriculture is the solution, though this will save money as opposed to make money – perhaps an anathema to industry, but a great boon to land/vegetation managers. The enterprise of such management and CA will get arborists out of trees and into the soil…

Long live the rhizosphere.

October 6, 2019 / by / in , , , ,
Going Places

Being an arborist has its challenges, one of the biggest being able to access areas hard to reach, with small and narrow entrances.

After the tree has gone, perhaps due to disease, safety or simply being in the wrong place – the stump remains and access with a grinder is required.

With many arborists offering stump grinding as a service, it’s essential to be able to tackle jobs that arise, that’s why Thor’s Trees purchased two Predator 360 stump grinders.

At under 660mm wide, Thor’s Trees can service with ease, especially houses that are shoulder to shoulder and have difficult access.

“It has a great swing for such a compact grinder, at 812mm or sixty degrees, it’s unmatched by any other stump grinder on the market.”

The Predator 360 boasts a cutting depth of 355mm and a weight of only 145kg, meaning this machine is going places. In addition, with its fold-over handle, lifting eyes and handles to the front and rear, you can transport it in practically any truck, ute or trailer.

Its central pivot turns a job that should be hard work into something that can be repeated over and over again without tiring the operator.

Lawrence Thor, Managing Director of Thor’s Trees said, “I chose Predator as they’re the best on the market, they have a great reputation and their customer service (through Hansa Products – the local distributor) is excellent.

Lawrence mentioned that the investment was a great choice with a quick ROI compared to hiring one.

“In terms of ROI we managed to pay off the Predator 360 stump grinder in three months thanks to the accessibility to many jobs it enables.

The manoeuvrable, well built, efficient, powerful machine with a US patented multi-tip cutting system as standard is approximately 30 percent more efficient than the same machine with finger teeth and local schools.

The Predator 360 is the smallest pedestrian grinder available through local distributors Hansa Products. With small handheld grinder attachments, pedestrian models, as well as larger remote-controlled models up to 65hp on offer, there is bound to be a Predator suitable for every stump that need grinding.

Hansa Products are the sole distributor of Predator Grinders in Australia and New Zealand.

For more information visit http://www.hansaproducts.com.au

October 2, 2019 / by / in , ,