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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: 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—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.


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

October 2, 2019 / by / in , ,
Little Helper

Hacksaw won’t access that metal pipe? What’s the solution?

You can either take out the blade, wrap a roll of duct tape around it to make a handle and watch it bend or break as you push on it or you can take the metal cutting Silky Mini Mini from the toolbox and get the job done quickly and easily.

The Silky Mini Mini from Japan is small and easy to manoeuvre into tight places, but has the cutting ability of a full-size hacksaw and stays sharp four times longer.

These little beauties cut in both directions, on the pull stroke as well as the push stroke. They are so compact that take up practically no room at all.

The blades are only 160mm long and are made from top-quality steel, strong and flexible. They have the handles that absorb vibrations and come with a protective cover for the blade. No cutting the fingers as you dig through the tool-box to find it.

Another praised feature of Silky Saws in Australia is that replacement parts are available for all saws. Lose the screw, just order a new one! All parts are in stock in the Brisbane warehouse.

You also have the choice of two other blades that will fit on the Mini Mini handle: one designed for cutting plastic (great for conduit) and the other designed for hobbyists working with wood.

Silky Mini Mini is the right choice for a huge range of applications, with a very small price tag.

Call Arborlab Tree Care and chat with Jannita on (07) 3823 1599

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October 1, 2019 / by / in , , ,
Quality Delivered With ECHO

Briggs & Stratton introduces ECHO to the professional Aussie market.

For over 70 years, ECHO® has been designing and building high performance, commercial quality products. From humble beginnings in Japan with a simple handheld crop duster, ECHO has grown to become a technological leader and well-respected global brand.

Following the exclusive distribution agreement between the Yamabiko Corporation and Briggs & Stratton last year, Japanese power equipment brand ECHO has established itself as a market leader in Australia releasing an innovative range of affordable handheld products designed specifically for professionals and tradesmen. With the latest of ECHO’s iconic-orange range available through Briggs & Stratton dealers, the global company promises to deliver quality and consistency across all products.

“The essence of ECHO is a complex story intended to make every user’s life simple.”

You don’t have to think about your tools because they already have. The philosophy is simple – to produce professional quality products that meet the demands of the people who use them. The essence of ECHO is a complex story intended to make every user’s life simple. The many facets include skilled craftsmen, world-class technology and integrated production.

Skilled Craftsmen

For over 70 years ECHO has been producing durable, dependable products. It starts with engineers who understand the requirements of the applications and optimise performance, durability, and ergonomics. They are followed by those in manufacturing who take great pride in what they do: create components to exacting specifications and assemble them into products worthy of the ECHO name.

World Class Technology

To be a global leader, you need to have cutting edge technology. ECHO uses the latest materials for strength and reduced weight. Computerised design and manufacturing allow them to meet tight tolerances, providing superior fit, finish and performance. Robots work tirelessly in tandem with skilled associates for efficient and concise assembly of their products.

Integrated Production

The engine is the heart of all ECHO products and they control the entire process. Their vertically integrated system starts with ingots and includes casting, machining, heat treating, polishing and plating, all done in Japan.

“The philosophy is simple – to produce professional quality products that meet the demands of the people who use them.”

When you are famous for your engines, you don’t want to put your reputation in someone else’s hands.

With industry trends moving towards more environmentally sound solutions, ECHO worked tirelessly to reduce exhaust emissions across their petrol-powered range, as well as developing and launching their 50V lithium-ion handheld range including a hedge trimmer, line trimmer, and blower that take on their petrol counterparts with a wealth of added benefits. Lightweight, robust construction with long-lasting, quick-charging batteries and professional-grade maintenance-free brushless motors across the range ensure long-lasting, professional performance. Developing batteries with charge times as low as 30mins and full compatibility across multiple tools, ECHO offers the most convenient solution to any workload.

Another key product innovation catering for highly trained professionals is ECHO’s most compact saw yet with the CS-2511TES top handle chainsaw – fast becoming a favourite with arborists, carvers, and foresters around the world.

Given the superior power-to-weight ratio, the saw is both highly manoeuvrable and can be used for long periods with little user fatigue.

The exceptional performance is driven by a 25cc professional grade Japanese engine. Standout features include a dry weight of 2.3kg (without guide bar and saw chain), a starter grip assist cap opener; dropout prevention nuts; a tool-less air filter cover allowing easy air filter access, even while wearing gloves; a side-access chain tensioner enabling easy chain adjustment and an integrated metal lanyard ring for easy attachment and detachment. Grouped controls and an innovative top handle, along with a swing-out lanyard ring which has been positioned for greater balance and easy climbing, makes this saw perfect for heights.

With a five-year domestic warranty and two-year professional warranty, the ECHO professional range is available through Briggs & Stratton dealers nationally.

For more information visit

September 29, 2019 / by / in , , ,
Improve Efficiency

Improve efficiency and make the most of the versatility offered by an Avant ArborPro Loader

Improving the efficiency of a business, by speeding up jobs, improving staff morale and keeping staff safe and healthy is a no brainer for any business. The Avant ArborPro compact articulated loader can contribute to all of these to make a business more efficient. Avant has developed the ArborPro loader specifically to meet the requirements of arborists and tree care professionals.

The high quality, Avant ArborPro 700 series loader is very fast, with speeds of up to 30km per hour, has easy to use controls and a reliable 49hp Kubota engine. The Avant ArborPro 700 series can lift approximately 1.5 tonnes up to 3m in the air with the telescopic boom, which makes it fast and efficient for loading logs into the chippers or mulch into trucks and trailers. The Avant loader can perform tree jobs, use an auger, carry pallets of materials or lift and carry items with a grapple or even remove a stump with a stump grinder.

The compact size of the Avant ArborPro loader appeals to tree care professionals who are looking to get into tight spaces and easily access backyards. The compact size, lightweight and articulated chassis, which pivots mid-body, makes it easy to manoeuvre, especially in tight areas, assists in quick job completion resulting in lower operating costs.

The benefit of having a loader that can access tight residential properties or quickly drive across manicured lawns and acreage, is that it can do all the lifting and carrying with minimal or no damage to the property. The Avant compact loader not only eases the physical strain of hand loading on arborists, but the compact size and articulated chassis allows it to be operated on sensitive surfaces with minimal damage. Not having to fix up track marks gets the job done faster and more efficiently. The Avant loader design is easy on the tyres in comparison to skid steer loaders, so tyre wear and tear costs are much lower.

The Avant loader cabin provides 360-degree visibility, so the operator is always aware of their surroundings and has an unobstructed view to the attachment. Access to the cabin is from the side, making it easy to access. The ease of access and excellent visibility are designed for maximum operator safety.

Instead of a dedicated machine for each application, attachments can be quickly changed on the Avant loader to do more with one loader. The comprehensive Avant attachment range – over 200 attachments – includes everything from buckets to augers to rotating grapples and just about any other attachment needed for tree care. This makes the Avant loader a very versatile and useful machine for tree care operations.

The ease of transporting the Avant loaders makes them popular with tree care professionals. The compact size allows the loader and attachments to be transported properly, easily and safely on one trailer, making it easier to get machinery to job sites.

The versatility of the Avant ArborPro is the ideal loader for arborists and tree care professionals to improve the efficiency of their business.

For the complete range of compact loaders and attachments call 1800 686 411

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September 26, 2019 / by / in , , ,
Soil Health, Tree Health

Veale Gardens/Walyu Yarta – (Park 21) – Part 4

This case study examines the application of advanced tree management techniques to rehabilitate a population of trees experiencing decline in Urban Forestry. These management techniques focus on enhancing soil health by improving soil physical structure, chemistry and biology. The efficacy of this approach was evaluated using innovative sensing technologies to better understand the links between soil health and tree health and to quantify the productivity of trees in Urban Forestry.

Following up to PART 3 of this Case Study, which ran in The Australian Arbor Age Jun/Jul 2019 issue, we are now proceeding with the evaluation of the results in terms of photosynthesis analysis, visual tree assessments and comparing recent salinity studies to come to a conclusion of our case study.

Veale Gardens Photosynthesis Analysis Multivariate analysis was conducted for each individual tree to account for environmental covariates such as light intensity and time of day and generate adjusted means for each sampling date. Based on the results of this analysis, relative chlorophyll content generally increased over the three years of this study. This trend was also true for the untreated control (tree 31) with relative chlorophyll increasing from 29 in October 2015 to 55 in February 2018.

Similar analysis of other MultispeQ parameters (Phi2, PhiNPQ, and PhiNO) did not show any consistent trends and there was a high degree of variability, most likely caused by the sampling regime used to collect the data (data not shown). To address this issue, a narrower analysis was done by combining all the trees of the same genus and analysing them together (Fig. 26). Only the genera’ which included at least three trees were included in this analysis. Three of the four genus showed a consistent increase in relative chlorophyll throughout the study period, with only Fraxinus trees not increasing noticeably over time.

In contrast, there were no clear time-related trends for the other MultispeQ parameters, with Phi2 generally remaining level and PhiNPQ and PhiNO offsetting each other (if PhiNPQ increased, then PhiNO decreased).

This pattern is expected since these three parameters equal the destination of all captured light by photosystem II, and therefore the sum of these three parameters will always equal 1.

The only genus that did not show an increase in relative chlorophyll was Fraxinus, which is also the genus of the control (untreated) tree.

To determine if the untreated tree was behaving differently from the treated trees, all the MultispeQ data were combined from February 10, February 20, and March 10, 2018 into a single dataset. This dataset was chosen because it used a common MultispeQ version (V1.0) and had many data points for the untreated control tree has well as other trees in the park. A separate multivariate analysis considering light intensity, time of day and ambient temperature was conducted to generate adjusted means of MultispeQ parameters for each tree (Fig. 27).

There appears to be a pattern of PhiNPQ and leaf temperature differential decreasing and PhiNO increasing as the tree numbers increased. To test the causes of this trend, correlation analysis of the adjusted means compared with the average light intensity and time of day was conducted (Table 4). While Phi2, PhiNPQ, PhiNO and leaf temperature differential were all correlated with light intensity, there was a much stronger correlation between time of day and PhiNPQ, PhiNO and leaf temperature differential (Fig 28).

These Results Suggest Two Phenomena:

Over the course of a given day, the trees ability to regulate incoming light (PhiNPQ) diminishes.

The multivariate analysis was not able to account successfully for all the effects of light intensity and time of day on photosynthesis parameters.

The former outcome results in higher levels of PhiNO, which can lead to photodamage, and hotter leaf temperatures and mean that the trees are noticeably more stressed in the afternoon than in the morning, regardless of light intensity. This is important to note, as it may suggest that future photosynthesis measurements should be taken later in the day, if possible, to see if more stressed trees show greater differences in photosynthesis parameters. The latter phenomena could be corrected with a more robust sampling regime, in which each tree was measured at multiple times throughout the day, so that each tree was measured in the morning and in the afternoon. Finally, it was useful to determine if there was a noticeable difference in tree health between the untreated control (tree 31), which was a healthy control tree in that it did not show signs of decline, and the other Fraxinus trees (trees 6, 7, and 15). To do this, results generated in Figure 8 (were used to rank relative chlorophyll content and Phi2 from high to low and then highlighted the position of each of the four Fraxinus trees (Fig. 30).

As expected, the healthy control tree had the highest relative chlorophyll content and the greatest Phi2 of all the Fraxinus trees. Ideally, tracking the healthy control tree more frequently throughout the experimental period to see if the gap between the healthy tree and declining trees were reduced over time. Relative chlorophyll and Phi2 were used as an illustration because they were the least affected by time of day or light intensity and were therefore the best parameters for comparing trees against each other.

The lack of any trend over time of the photosynthesis parameters (Phi2, PhiNPQ, and PhiNO) suggest that they are not good indicators of tree health, especially considering the care that needs to be taken to develop robust sampling regimes to account for confounding factors like light intensity and time of day. Secondly, while relative chlorophyll content increased throughout the course of the study, that trend was true for the untreated tree and the rest of the trees, and so the cause of the increase appears unrelated to tree management. However, a key caveat here is that with only one control tree, it is hard to draw any firm conclusions.

Visual Tree Assessments

In conjunction with the traditional and novel data collections approaches that have been previously detailed, tree health was also assessed using Visual Tree Assessment (VTA). Figure 31 presents the average VTA score for treated and untreated trees over the course of this case study. Generally, tree health increased over time for all trees, which is similar to the relative chlorophyll content data presented in the previous section. However, the VTA data can be quite inconsistent, due to the subjectivity of the process. For example, on March 16, 2018 half of the trees were rated as good and half as fair, but 10 days later the average rating was only fair. There results suggest that measuring chlorophyll content is at least as good as VTA for assessing tree health and is probably better because it is more objective than VTA.

Comparing Recent Salinity Studies At Veale Gardens

In this section we compare some key soil salinity results from the Veale Gardens/ Walyu Yarta PHC Project with a study that was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Sustainability. This publication “Soil Salinity Mapping of Urban Greenery Using Remote Sensing and Proximal Sensing Techniques; The Case of Veale Gardens within the Adelaide Park Lands” used remote sensing to predict soil salinity issues in the Veale Gardens parkland (Nouri, et al., Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2826; Throughout the G.U.F. investigation and subsequent reporting for the Veale Gardens/Walyu Yarta PHC Project 2015 – 2018, soil salinity was difficult to define in Urban Environments, specifically in relation to guideline range. This is an important short- and long-term factor to understand and define in any circumstance. However, as Veale Gardens Walyu Yarta is now utilising recycled water to irrigate its Park Lands, and because the effects of recycled water on soils is not well understood, having accurate and consistent guidelines is doubly important. The range guidelines for soil salinity provided by various authorities are quite wide ranging (Table 5). Far too wide to be useful with such an important and essential soil health component. It is important to define a clear range of soil salinity to focus on regarding practical management and monitoring of the site. The lowest figure, < 0.2 Ds/m provided by Environmental Analysis Laboratories at Southern Cross University, is the one focused on by the author. This raised concerns as the range used in the aforementioned Nouri et al. study used a much higher range of <2.2Ds/m.

The Veale Gardens/ Walyu Yarta PHC Project tested soil salinity in eight trees, with tree #31 an untreated control, from 2015 to 2018 (Fig. 32). The sodium levels were highly variable although there was a pattern of sodium levels declining after PHC treatment with organic amendments and stimulants. This may be due to the sodium molecule being attracted to Humic and Fulvic acids produced from biological activity in the remediated soil. Unlike sodium, the electrical conductivity was consistent across each year, with no discernable difference between treated and untreated trees, or any shifts over time (Fig. 33).

The electrical conductivity (EC) results from the G.U.F. soil samples were compared to those from Nouri et. al. by comparing the sampling locations of the Veale Gardens/ Walyu Yarta (Park 21) (Fig. 34B, page 24) and the salinity maps generated by Nouri et. al. (Fig. 34C, page 24). The EC results from Nouri et. al. were higher than the G.U.F. results for seven of the eight trees (Table 6. This suggests that the method used by Nouri et. al. over-estimated EC. Secondly, using the CSIRO guidelines, the results for five of the eight trees sampled show that they have a high salinity rating. Conversely, if using the much higher standard of <2.2Ds/m suggested by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (which is a global standard that does not reflect local conditions) then none of the trees would have a high salinity rating, regardless of the method of determining soil salinity. This ambiguity in the measurements and standards make it difficult for park managers to properly understand the effects of recycled water on their soils.

Tree # 16 – Quercus Ilex – Died 2017 During the Veale Gardens PHC program only one of the 30 declining trees died, Tree # 16 (Fig. 35, page 25). As part of the investigation program this tree was evaluated to determine if there was a detectable causative factor. The death of this tree was an unfortunate outcome, although it does highlight that tree decline driven by poor soil health must be considered and managed quickly to reduce early tree mortality.

A pathology assessment of Tree # 16 was conducted due to the rapid desiccation and pronounced death of the tree due to ceased vascular activity between June and September 2017. This tree had been in a severe state of decline for some time. It was discussed in 2015 between Matthew Daniel and Veale Gardens management that the tree had been showing signs of stress for up to a decade. The soil health conditions of this tree were identified as poor due to high soil compaction, toxic soil chemistry and low beneficial soil biology in 2015. The supplied report in 2015 warned of possible pathogen activity due to these conditions and observed poor plant health and vitality.

Since 2015, Adelaide had recorded two years of above average rainfall. This increased moisture coupled with high soil compaction may have led to anaerobic soil conditions forming, favourable to pathogens.

In 2017 Matthew Daniel recommended a pathology investigation be conducted on the tree due to the rapid decline symptoms of complete desiccation (browning off) of the entire canopy. Due to the danger of pathogen activity Matthew Daniel conducted a pathology investigation and sampling of the tree in September as part of the PHC # 2 data collection. Hygiene protocols of equipment used were implemented to reduce the risk of contaminating other natural assets in the area.

The Bacillus and Pseudomonas are beneficial bacterial species and are not of concern. In most situations the presence of Phoma or Phomopsis group of fungi around trees is unlikely to cause problems to a large woody plant. Although due to the tree being in a state of severe decline for many years, high soil compaction and two seasons of record rain, the combination of these factors is likely to have caused Phoma sp to become an opportunistic pathogen and likely the last issue affecting the tree and causing death.

During routine data collection a spike in PhiNPQ was detected in Tree # 16, which was under considerable stress and it appears to have been captured dying in the data (Fig. 36A). Upon further analysis, the spike in PhiNPQ was accompanied by a steep decline in Phi2 and PhiNO (Fig 36B). To confirm these results, we used multivariate analysis to account for light intensity and time of day, the results clearly show a spike in PhiNPQ and decline in other parameters. These results suggest that the tree was unable to use captured light for photosynthesis, and therefore tried to get rid of all of the light energy as ‘excess’, because the tree was dying. This is a significant outcome as it is proof of concept that this type of methodology could be useful in other areas of Arboriculture tree assessments such as development site monitoring.


This case study evaluated the impacts of a plant health care prescription on tree and soil health. The PHC plan included applications of compost, mulch, Actively Aerated Compost Tea, and microbial stimulants. To test the efficacy of these applications, a broad range of soil and tree health parameters were measured.

Some of these analyses are traditional (e.g. laboratory analysis of soil samples) and some of these analyses used new, sophisticated technologies (e.g. MultispeQ photosynthesis meter, Our-Sci Carbon Mineralization Meter). Together, the analysis presented in this case study represent a new approach to monitoring tree health in the Urban Forest, which accounts for the complex and interlinked nature of soil health, tree health, and microclimate productivity.

The soil analyses showed that the PHC treatments improved soil chemical, biological and physical parameters, all three of which are required for robust soil health. Soil organic matter and important macro and micro nutrients like Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorous, Calcium and Magnesium increased after the PHC treatments. The organic amendments in the PHC also increased protozoa populations and soil respiration in the treated trees compared to the untreated control. Soil compaction decreased over time after the PHC treatments.

A new handheld meter (MultispeQ) was used to measure photosynthesis of all the trees in the project to develop a detailed baseline that can be utilised in the future and applied to other natural assets.

However, the photosynthetic measurements from this instrument were not able to identify differences in tree health or trends over time. This may be due to the complex sampling protocols needed to properly account for environmental factors that affect photosynthesis. On the other hand, the MultispeQ meter was able to detect the severe decline of a tree that was dying. So, while this type of complex tool may not be suited for everyday Urban Forest management, it still has value in identifying serious issues.

The MultispeQ meter also measured relative chlorophyll content, which is a parameter that is not as sensitive to environmental factors and for which cheaper handheld instruments are available. The relative chlorophyll content of all the trees in this project, including the untreated control, increased over time. This suggests that all the trees were recovering from historical stresses. These results were very similar to the Visual Tree Assessments, which also showed a general trend towards healthier trees.

Handheld chlorophyll or NDVI meters are well suited to everyday management as they are less subjective than VTA measurements and are easy to use and interpret.

Regardless of the effectiveness of any given tool used in this case study, the detailed analyses conducted here shows the potential of using more scientific approaches in Urban Forest management. Developing a greater understanding of tree function will improve the management of Urban Forests and secure the investment of urban greening into the future that is underpinned by scientific principles. Furthermore, these approaches will help Urban Forestry to meet its objectives such as mitigating issues such as Urban Heat Island Effect and providing better microclimate productivity.

A summary of the positive implications of this research to improve the Urban Forestry industry:

  • Soil Health drives tree health
  • The current standard industry Visual Tree Assessments (VTA) can be improved with science-based methodology and management
  • Science-based processes need to account for the soil chemical, biological and physical parameters that drive soil health
  • The use of handheld meters can assist in determining tree health and early detection of plant stressors
  • Soil compaction can be significantly reduced through increased biological activity
  • Measuring soil carbon can be achieved with user-friendly instruments and methodologies that do not require expensive lab testing
  • Increasing soil health can assist in remediating the negative effects of recycled water use.


Thanks to Dr Mary Cole – Agpath, Graham Lancaster and Brian Smith – Environmental Analysis Laboratories (EAL), Dr Nicholas Malajczuk – Director, MAI (Australia) Pty Ltd.


Note: Any soil analysis or observation taken and recorded in this report will only ever capture the status of the soil and vegetation on that day. It must be emphasized that changes of sometimes considerable magnitude can be expected in response to normal seasonal and extreme weather responses and some management actions.

This means that outcomes as anticipated with the available evidence collated may be unpredictable, so regular recording of the soil and vegetation using a Soil Health Card or VSA and VTA or TREE HEALTH CALCULATOR 1.0 is essential, with the taking of photos always encouraged to record a history of change. G.U.F warrants that the methods adopted in its programs are largely a practical application of many years of experience in Plant Health Care together with scientifically verified management directives and measures through numerous sensors which are continually improved as new research findings come to hand.

Words & Images | Matthew R. Daniel – Global Urban Forest, Dr Dan Teravest – Oursci – Michigan, USA

For more information on the Veale Gardens/Walyu Yarta Case Study visit

September 24, 2019 / by / in , , ,
Reputation For Quality

Only Briggs & Stratton distributes Shindaiwa’s best.

Following the exclusive distribution agreement between the Yamabiko Corporation and Briggs & Stratton last year, Japanese owned Shindaiwa® has established itself as a the go-to for professionals in Australia – building a brand reputation synonymous with high performance and durability around the world. With the latest of Shindaiwa’s iconic-red range available through Briggs & Stratton dealers, the global company remains focused on designing and building the highest quality products for professionals who depend on it.

Shindaiwa only builds equipment to one standard – professional. They manufacture products to suit the environment in which they will be used and the job they will be doing, and each piece of equipment is as durable as they can make it. Products are tested in punishing conditions to ensure that they are capable of whatever you demand from them. So even if you don’t use Shindaiwa equipment professionally, the products you buy are already being used and trusted by people who do.

You know that equipment designed in Japan will be reliable. Well built. Dependable. Professional. Durable. Japan is the home of technological craftsmanship and the nation has won international respect for its manufacturing expertise. This global standard also extends to the equipment Shindaiwa manufacture and they are proud to be counted among those companies that help Japan maintain its reputation for the quality of its engineering and technology.

A few standout innovations include the 451S chainsaw, PT262S pole pruner and EB770 backpack blower.

451S Chainsaw

The 451S chainsaw is a standout for high power and lower emissions. The 45cc professional grade, two-stroke engine provides category leading cutting performance for better work efficiency. Without catalyst, the new stratified two-stroke engine enables same emission levels as a conventional engine. User friendly with front handle, drop prevention nuts, momentary switch and ES-Start technology – the 451S has an ergonomic design with the user in mind.

PT262S Pole Pruner

The newest of the range, the PT262S pole pruner with telescopic shaft is built for control and precision. Featuring an ergonomic loop handle with rubber grip for comfort and handling, ribbed fiberglass outer shaft for rigidity and control and soft-start for reduced effort starting – the PT262S is built for professionals with long days on the jobsite.

EB770 Backpack Blower

Showcasing the finest in Japanese engine technology, the EB770 backpack blower produces an impressive air volume of 1290m3/h with an air speed of 376km/h – the best combination of air volume and speed in its class. With both a round straight and round bent nozzle supplied, user manoeuvrability is excellent so no hidden debris will remain unturned. With adjustable cruise control, the EB770 can be customised to each user – ideal for small businesses.

With a five-year domestic warranty and two-year professional warranty, you can have absolute confidence in their equipment. Shindaiwa is designed to be durable and to do what you ask it, wherever you take it. Not only that, their products are built to the highest standards of quality and performance. The warranty is a statement of confidence and a badge of honour.

The Shindaiwa range is available through Briggs & Stratton dealers nationally.

For more information visit

September 22, 2019 / by / in , , ,
Myths And Legends

This month we answer a few questions frequently raised at training classes. We also look into how to qualify as a professional arborist.

I write this as we head into tax time and beautiful winter temperatures which, after the long hot summer, are making tree work really acceptable – working without your eyes steaming up with sweat, yes how lucky are we? Winter in Queensland really is the time to be an arborist.

Don’t forget to keep your hands warm through and even consider wearing some gloves as damage to the nerves in your hands and arms from vibration (Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome – HAVS) is more likely in cold weather.

Gloves will help to insulate against the vibration and keeping hands warm helps too.

You could also consider a few stars jumps stretches and a general warm-up routine before starting work.

The big task at TFT this month is the need to convince the minister of finance that the list of new kit we have proposed really is needed (we are optimistic and excited!)

We have noticed that during some of our training sessions at TFT several common questions are raised regarding various techniques and practices that have often been passed on to newcomers within the industry.

Usually by well-practiced mentors are often misconstrued and as myths tend to prevail as a legend!

I would like to share some of them with you with and attempt to explain a few of the more commonly discussed points as we go.

“It’s OK to use climbing irons and spike trees especially on smooth-barked trees when I have to branch walk for speed and safety. The spike holes are only small and the tree won’t feel it!”

The practice of using climbing irons on trees that are not dead or being removed is proven to wound and cause severe long term damage to trees. The practice is not aligned with any current industry standards or recommendations.

The Australian Standard AS4373 Pruning of Amenity Trees makes a specific reference under section 5.1 to the fact that any equipment particularly climbing irons or spikes used when climbing or pruning that will cause wounding of the bark and conductive tissues must not be used on trees that are to be retained. “I make all my final pruning cuts on a 45-degree angle so that rainwater runs off to stop the wood rotting out.” Absolute myth – not correct. It is well documented and proven within the long-established works of the legendary Dr Alex Shigo and his ‘CODIT’ model that final pruning cuts have to be made at the appropriate position and angle, dictated by the branch bark ridge and the branch collar to enable the tree to react and

It will not increase the chains cutting performance and is generally performed as an excuse for poor sharpening techniques. “I always make the back cut at an angle when felling trees so the tree won’t come back at me.”

“I always make the back cut at an angle when felling trees so the tree won’t come back at me.”


Some old school tree felling crews considered that this was the case but it has long been proven through extensive discussion, workshops, theory and standard-setting within the industry that the main back cut used as the final protect itself which has absolutely nothing to do with water run-off. “I always file my rakers down so the saw cuts better.” On all brands of chainsaw chain, the depth gauges (commonly called rakers) regulate the depth of cut and amount of wood each tooth can cut. They are designed to be one of the main safety features of the chain. If they are not set to the correct level when sharpening the chain by using one of the various measuring tools/file guides available the chain will not conform to the manufacturer’s recommendations. The practice of filing down the depth gauges to a position that is lower than that recommended by the chain manufacturer is generally irresponsible and constitutes to the modification of a major safety feature.

Unlawful chain modification has been proven to have been a major contributor in many chainsaw accidents and causes an increased risk of kickback push back and pull in accidents with the chainsaw. It also increases wear and tear to the machine and greater operator fatigue.

It will not increase the chains cutting performance and is generally performed as an excuse for poor sharpening techniques.

“I always make the back cut at an angle when felling trees so the tree won’t come back at me.”

Myth – Some old school tree felling crews considered that this was the case but it has long been proven through extensive discussion, workshops, theory and standard-setting within the industry that the main back cut used as the final cut to release the tree is made at the back of the tree at a height of up to 10 percent of the tree diameter above the flat cut of the scarf or felling notch retaining a strip of holding or hinge wood of a suitable width that is used to control the fall of the tree.

This practice is well documented in the tree fallers manual published by CSIRO and is also covered in all felling courses carried out by TFT.

“I have my chainsaw ticket for level 2 tree felling so I am certificated to fell any size tree that comes along.”

This is not correct as this level will only cover the holder to fell small trees.

The definition and content of various competency standards and training guidelines are compiled by the relevant industry advisory boards and based upon extensive industry consultation processes.

Currently, the majority of tree felling units are based on forestry practices or amenity tree work practices or a combination of the two industries, therefore in the current AHC Cert III arboriculture qualification units of competency are included to cover both forestry and urban tree felling techniques.

The tree felling tickets are generally referred to as levels 1, 2 or 3 are defined in the latest standards in detail but generally recognized as the following.

  • Level One

The chainsaw is the maintenance of the saw and the trimming and cutting of trees felled by others and already on the ground

  • Level Two

A chainsaw is felling of small trees sometimes referred to as simple felling using basic cuts to fell a tree considered to be small which is generally considered to be less than a standard chainsaw bar length up to approximately 40cm in diameter

  • Level Three

Chainsaw consists of two competency units that refer to intermediate and advanced level tree felling.

These advanced levels require the operator to demonstrate a range of techniques with the advanced level currently the highest ground-based competency unit level covering the felling of multi-stemmed hollow and dead trees with no height or diameter restrictions.

For your chainsaws, you should make sure that you have a dedicated tool kit to enable you to carry out chain maintenance and the following items should be carried as a minimum.

  • File holders marked with correct filing angles
  • Roller guides for the file if applicable
  • Suitable chainsaw round files with handles to suit the above file guides
  • Fine toothed flat files for depth gauge maintenance
  • Depth gauge regulating tool
  • Guide bar dressing tool
  • Vernier callipers to measure and ensure even cutter length
  • Marker pen so that you can mark the first cutter filed as the starting point.

Your local dealer should also be able to advise on the correct tools and equipment to maintain your saw chain in the correct condition.

A blunt chain can usually be recognised from visual inspection by the fact that it is covered with baked-on tree sap or the chrome plating of the cutter is scuffed and serrated along with the top plate.

If the chain becomes blunt while in use, then woodchips will become a dusty powder, cutting performance will decrease rapidly and extra pressure will need to be applied. This can be extremely dangerous as loss of control due to the extra pressure needed to make the cut can easily occur.

Blunt chains will not self-feed into the cut and may skate and bounce which will increase the risk of kickback.

So if you find any of the above symptoms happening then you must stop let the bar and chain cool down and sharpen the chain.

  • Make sure you have the correct size of file and guide
  • Check all components for excessive wear or damage
  • Maintain correct filing angle
  • Maintain even pressure and strokes on the file
  • Keep all cutters the same length then they will all enter the wood at the same height reducing vibration and one sided cutting habits
  • Remove all damage from cutters
  • Check the height of depth gauges using the correct gauge
  • Avoid damaging other component parts of the chain.

Refreshers Update Training

Hopefully, some of the myths have been dispersed by now, but just to say there are some wonderful individuals that make up the arboricultural industry the world over. They all have one thing in common and that is they are all about trees and at the end of the day local knowledge regarding the characteristics of a particular tree or timber can be a key factor to using our various skills and techniques along with regular training and updating of skills and knowledge which as you all know knowledge is power.

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

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 updated 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 overtime.

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.

Training assessment and refresher courses are available for operators in all areas of the arboricultural industry some of the popular ones include:

  • Chainsaw maintenance
  • Pole saw operations
  • Tree felling
  • Brushwood chipper
  • Stump grinder
  • Pruning
  • Climbing
  • Top handled chainsaw use with techniques for operators working from a rope and harness or from the basket of an EWP.


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.

RPL – Recognition of prior learning

There is an extremely involved process in collating and providing the required evidence for an RPL and it generally is not the easy way out that some people seem to believe.

The pathway to achieve the Certificate iii 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.

Once you have achieved the Certificate III in arboriculture the next step if you wish to continue to progress within our industry is to follow the pathway from trade level working arborist and step up to undertake the AHC50516 Diploma of Arboriculture.

To achieve this qualification you will need to have a considerable working tree knowledge and complete training and assessment in 10 industry-endorsed units of competency 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 the graduate to operate with the required skills for consulting arborists 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.

Common question to the office at the moment is: “What Do I Need To Do To Become An Arborist?”

Our advice regarding entering into the arboricultural profession is to enroll in the course that best suits your needs then commit to invest as much time learning the processes and procedures of the job as possible ask lots of questions and make an effort to learn some tree names.

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 process requires a level of investment both financially and in time and effort requiring amongst other things large amounts of support tolerance patience understanding and so on!

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 the student and the training organisation the outcome is a well-rounded competent and qualified staff member that is a real asset to your business.

We 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 process they will gradually 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 head 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 most 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 employers to ensure their apprentice is getting experience at work and meeting their performance requirements.

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

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 license of any other RTO or parent company, which means we are able to look after our students and employers at every step of the 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


  • 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, Polesaw and AC/DC. Contact us for your qualifications, short courses VOC, RPL and refresher training. Train with us and leaf qualified.

See our website  for details or email

September 19, 2019 / by / in , , , ,
Red Bull Branched Out

Red Bull Branched Out, in partnership with Arboriculture AustraliaTM, is ready for its third running. The venue for this year will be Kapunda, South Australia, where 150 of the world’s best tree climbers will go against each other in a timed race.

The Red Bull Branched Out Tree Climbing Event is a new, exciting and physically challenging four- round elimination competition. In partnership once more with Arboriculture Australia, and Kapunda (SA), the three-day ‘one of its kind’ speed tree climbing event will be held on October 17, 18 and 19, 2019.

Now in its third year, Red Bull Branched Out 2019 is one not to be missed. The unique skill-based format challenges tree climbers to hit several targets in the 30 meter high tree canopy, starting at the top and swinging from fixed ropes descending down to the ground.

Up for grab a $25,000 prize in cash and over $50,000 of equipment and kit to be won, which make this the largest prize pool on offer for any tree climbing event in the world.

In each round, all climbers that have qualified for the round must attempt a tree circuit according to the rules. After each round, a designated proportion of climbers will be eliminated; climbers with the fastest times will progress through to the next round.

The fastest male and female climber to complete the Grand Final Circuit will be announced as the Red Bull Branched Out Champions for 2019.

For more information visit the event Facebook page at events/435154957300584/

To take part to the event please register at

September 17, 2019 / by / in , , ,

This month we look into new minimum wage rates in place since July 1, 2019, as well as into a significant ruling on a workers compensation case.

National Wage CaseTTIA News

The Fair Work Commission released the tenth annual minimum wage review decision under the Fair Work Act, 2009 on May 30, 2019.

This decision increased the modern award wage rates by 3.0 percent and the national minimum wage from $719.20 per week to $740.80 per week, or $19.49 per hour based on a 38-hour working week.

Last year’s increase was 3.5 percent. The increased rates took effect from the first full pay period starting on or after July 1, 2019.

All tree contractors should ensure they are meeting the new minimum obligations from July 1, 2019. Please note that the increase was fully absorbable into over-award payments.

Tree contractors with any queries in regard to paying rates, please contact TTIA on (02) 9264 0011.

Ruling On Workers Compensation At A Work Event

When I hear employers and Members talk of their experiences with the worker’s compensation system, I normally see the abject pain and helplessness displayed on their normally pleasant facial expressions. Invariably, the issue of unfair liability arises from business owners who rightly claim many injuries seem to have originated from a previous employer, or outside an employee’s working time, yet somehow the medical profession and/or the court/tribunal system pulls them into a costly liability situation.

In a recent South Australian Employment Tribunal hearing (Power v Return to Work South Australia, May 2019), a significant matter was dealt with where an employee sustained an injury at a workplace function; namely, he fell over and hit his head after attending an awards night hosted by his employer.

Whilst the employee had not consumed alcohol during the ceremony, it was noticed by several witnesses that he was walking unsteadily, and his eyes were rolled back. It was observed the employee collided with a bathroom door handle before falling backward and hitting his head on the hard bathroom floor.

A witness left the scene immediately to seek assistance as blood flowed freely from the back of the employee’s head and ears.

In the aftermath, the employee sustained serious head injuries and had amnesia from the injury and absolutely no recollection of the incident. He took the firm legal position that he had been attending the function at his employer’s request and therefore the injury was sustained in the course of his work.

The South Australian Employment Tribunal considered the incident as it applied to the State’s Return to Work Act 2014. This Act provides that for an injury to be considered work-related and compensable, there are two basic requirements. Firstly, the injury must arise in the course of the person’s employment. Secondly, the worker’s employment must be a significant cause of the injury.

In this case, the judge found that only one of these conditions was satisfied. The judge found that while the injury had occurred in the course of the man’s employment, the injury arose from a pre-existing medical condition that just happened to manifest itself at work but without his employment being a contributing factor.

The key finding in this judgment was that his employment was not in any real or meaningful sense a significant contributing cause of the injury.

Now, none of this means that as employers we don’t need to take steps to limit liability when hosting workplace functions. TTIA has provided guidelines on this issue in the past which tree contractor members are welcome to access.

However, the significance of this case is that it is not enough for an employee’s injury to occur in the course of his/her employment. The employment must also be a significant contributing cause of the injury.

Please contact TTIA on (02) 9264 0011 if you wish to have further information.

Brian Beecroft

Chief Executive Officer

September 15, 2019 / by / in , , ,