Benmore’s five-strong arbor team is responsible for the care of a tree collection dating back to the 1820s with the planting of Scottish provenance Scots Pine. The collection also includes majestic Sequoiadendron planted in 1863 and which today stand 165ft high – plus Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Grand Fir, Noble Fir and Western Hemlock which were planted in the 1870s & 1880s on a commercial scale.
The arbor team is trained in tree inspection, climbing, chainsaw operations and rigging techniques. Working within a full complement of 11 staff, the arbor team also performs horticultural duties, caring for a diverse and internationally-important collection of 12,000 exotic trees and shrubs.
Trees planted around 140 years ago are now of great stature, some almost 200ft high, and can pose particular challenges for the team. Accessing some larger specimens requires the use of a catapult to install a line to pull through a climbing rope longer than any off-the-shelf item.
The ascent is not for the faint-hearted. The majority of the trees are coniferous and by their nature do not provide a ready range of anchor points and re-directs for achieving good work positioning.
Key outcomes include:
Successful nurturing of the health of the tree collection from planting, through early years of establishment
Successful maintenance of semi-mature and mature specimens.
Correct annotation of botanical labels individually linked to botanic garden database records.
Adherence to a Tree Risk Management Strategy developed by the team in consultation with management to identify and mitigate hazards. The strategy has allowed a much-improved system of planned, proactive maintenance rather than reactive maintenance - and ensures the safety of staff and visitors.
Reduction of the risk of damage to the collection which is of high scientific, conservation, heritage and educational importance through appropriate planning and execution of operations.
Efficient processing and recycling of wind-blown timber for use as mulch and in construction of bridges, handrails and steps within the garden.
Maintenance of a wide variety of equipment including climbing & lowering kit, chainsaws, winches, chipper, tractors & trailers and working to the highest standards of health & safety.
Team trained and qualified in emergency first aid.
The team's work does not stop at Benmore. In the last year staff have also climbed trees for seed collection in Bhutan and British Columbia, work vital to global conservation programmes.