Jack Kenyon joins Fund4Trees research advisory committee

We’re delighted to announce the appointment of Jack Kenyon to our Research Advisory Committee (RAC).

Jack Kenyon, Fund4Trees
Jack Kenyon, Fund4Trees

Fund4Trees has a Research Policy which is guided by the RAC, advising the trustees on all funding applications made for grants. We rely on leading expert tree specialists like Jack Kenyon to ensure our hard-earned charitable income is invested wisely for public benefit. Read more

RAC Chair, Rob MacKenzie, said:

“F4T wants to fund research that really changes arboricultural practice for the better. Having Jack’s view on submitted proposals, based on his long experience as an educator and practitioner, will greatly strengthen our confidence in our assessments of proposed research”.

RAC member, Dr David Lonsdale, said:

“I very much welcome the appointment of Jack Kenyon to the Research Advisory Committee.  I believe that the committee’s work will benefit greatly from his wealth of knowledge, both practical and theoretical, and from his common sense approach to the needs of the arboricultural industry.   His renowned excellence as an educator, established during his many years at Merrist Wood College, is in my opinion underpinned by a capacity for clear thinking, which will equip him to serve with distinction on the committee”.

Signing the Tree Charter

At the 9th London Tree & Woodlands award ceremony, Fund4Trees trustees Martin Gammie & Russell Ball, together with Chair of the Forestry Commission Sir Harry Studholme, signed the ‘Tree Charter’.

Sir Harry Studhome, Chair of the Forestry Commission, signing the Tree Charter with Russell Ball (left) and Martin Gammie (right) looking on.

The new Charter for Trees, Woods and People celebrates the 800th anniversary of the original document created by Henry III in 1217.

In November, Fund4Trees are planning to take a copy of the new Charter on a 180-mile bike ride from the famous ancient yew in Ankerwycke to Lincoln Cathedral where the Charter will be launched. We’ll make further announcements about this soon.

Read more about the Charter for Trees, Woods and People. You can also find a link to sign the Charter yourself on our front page.

Optimised Techniques for Tree Climbing Activities

Fund4Trees is excited to announce the funding of a new research project by Alexander Laver ISA, BCMA of Tree Logic and Dr. James Shippen of Coventry University.

The project intends to map the body’s movements while tree climbing, utilising and comparing different techniques to analyse the pressure on both joints and muscles. The research should lead to a better understanding of how we use our bodies in the tree and how potential injuries are sustained, including the mechanisms for longer term injuries.

The results will be presented to the UK arboricultural industry and worldwide. The technology is truly unique in its application to the tree care industry and has been developed along with specific software provided by Coventry University (see video above), who have applied their techniques to car and equipment manufacturing as well as sports professionals and performers. This should be a turning point in our understanding of how we use and abuse our bodies during tree climbing activities.

Jack Kenyon, Co-opted Technical Advisor for Fund4Trees, said:

“The proposed research could substantially increase understanding of potential causes of physical stress related injury. This will improve training techniques for climbers and reduce the occurrence of chronic industrial injury.”

Fund4Trees trustee, Martin Gammie, said:

“This is exactly the type of practitioner-based research we need to produce in order to benefit arborists in our industry. It also makes a good case to support Fund4Trees via Donate1Job to further our research efforts.”

Emma Gilmartin and Professor Lynne Boddy are studying beech heart rot

Beech heart rot research update

Emma Gilmartin and Professor Lynne Boddy provide an Autumn update on their research into beech heart rot, supported by Fund4Trees.

Emma Gilmartin and Professor Lynne Boddy are studying beech heart rot
Emma Gilmartin and Professor Lynne Boddy from Cardiff University are studying beech heart rot thanks to support from Fund4Trees

We are now well into mushroom season. These, and other fungal fruiting structures, are often described as like apples on a tree. This analogy is due to the fact that mushrooms bear the reproductive propagules that are subsequently dispersed through the local environment and sometimes farther afield. But unlike apples, mushrooms do not contain seed. Fungi produce spores that are usually less than 0.01 millimetres in size; even the smallest known plant seeds are considerably larger. For some fungi, production of a mushroom or fruit body is essential for dispersal to a new resource. For certain species, fruit body production is a relatively rare occurrence, and so these structures are crucial for the persistence of a species.

At Cardiff University, we study the ecology of wood decaying fungi. One of the questions we are interested in is how and when do different fungi arrive at a woody resource. These resources can be of all sizes and qualities, though we usually think of fine twigs, dead branches or mossy logs lying on the ground. Decay, however, actually begins in the standing tree, in dead or dysfunctional wood, often in the central tissues or heartwood. We have previously shown that DNA of twelve species of fungi can be found in functional, living wood sampled from branches of a range of tree species. Of the small suite of fungi looked for, many were found in most trees tested. Wood can contain potentially many fungi, existing as spores, lying in wait for an opportunity to develop and start the decay process.

This month, we are starting to extract DNA from sawdust removed from the sapwood and heartwood of living beech trees. We now have the capability to sequence, quite comprehensively, the whole suite of fungal DNA in a sample. Rather than looking for target species, we can cast a wide net and look at everything present. This is not merely a fishing trip; as the human microbiome project has shifted perceptions of our bodies as isolated units, so must we start to view trees as a plant plus microorganisms. A potentially vast array of microorganisms likely play roles in metabolism, defence, as well as in the origins of decay.

Preliminary studies have not been without issues, and method development has been a major component of our work so far. Extracting relatively low amounts of fungal DNA from living tree tissues is not easy, as the large amount of host (tree) DNA tends to mask these latent fungi from us. However, with collaborators at the US Forest Service who are following similar lines of enquiry, we hope to get around this. Nonetheless, enquiries so far have suggested a strong site effect on communities, meaning that latent fungi are not the same wherever you look. This questions the common assumption that fungal spores are simply everywhere. Like those of plants and animals, fungal communities in a given place can also be species-poor if the surrounding landscape is likewise impoverished.


Emma Gilmartin and Professor Lynne Boddy.
Cardiff University. School of Biosciences, Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, Wales. CF10 3AX