Tag Archives: funding

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

Tree-mendous challenge

Supported by Fund4Trees, Shropshire-based Tree Hunter Rob McBride, has set out to complete a ‘Tree-mendous challenge’: visiting all of the entrants in the European Tree of the Year (ETY) 2015 contest. This will take in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy, France (Corsica), Spain and Belgium.

Mick Boddy (Trustee for Fund4Trees) said

“Rob is a great ambassador for trees and their importance to our heritage and culture. We are very pleased to be able support this pan-European venture with a Fund4Trees travel and accommodation bursary.”

Since the ETY started 5 years ago over 1.1 million votes have been cast for the trees taking part in the contest. It has grown year on year and now has fourteen participating countries. The winning tree last year, an Elm tree from Bulgaria, polled over 77,000 votes. So, this year’s winning tree has some target to beat!

From the Environmental Partnership Association who organise the contest:

The purpose of the European Tree of the Year is to highlight the significance of old trees in the natural and cultural heritage that deserves our care and protection. Unlike other contests, the European Tree of the Year doesn’t focus on beauty, size or age but rather on the tree’s story and its connection to people. We are looking for trees that have become a part of the wider community.

One of the entrants is the Estonian Oak tree in the middle of the local football team’s pitch.  The teams play around the tree using it as a passing wall to bounce passes off beating players with the old one two… or perhaps more of a one, two…TREE!
See it here http://www.treeoftheyear.org/Letosni-rocnik/Dub-na-fotbalovem-hristi.aspx

In the UK there are entrants from Wales, Scotland & England:

Wales has the amazing Lonely Tree of Llanfyllin. This well loved Scot’s Pine was sadly was blown over in February 2014. But, the tree is still partly alive and ‘phoenixing’: rising again from its now prostrate position.


Scotland. Rob has been given special access to visit the Scottish entrant, the Lady’s tree, a Scot’s Pine growing in a nature reserve at Loch of the Lowes near Dunkeld, Perthshire. The tree has a nest near the top which has been the home of Lady the Osprey for the last 24 years…there is also a much visited webcam from which you can see Lady and her many hatched chicks. http://www.treeoftheyear.org/Letosni-rocnik/Strom-Damy.aspx

England, and of course, Rob will visit the world famous Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, ’Robin Hood’s Oak tree’. After hosting the awards ceremony in the EU Parliament Brussels last year, Rob promised there would be an English tree in the contest for 2015, as there had not been an English entrant previously. The Woodland Trust has now, very successfully, taken on the task of bringing the English entrant to the contest. http://www.treeoftheyear.org/Letosni-rocnik/Velky-dub.aspx

He will cross the Irish Sea to visit the Irish tree entrant with its emotional story, in Ballinderry, Co. Tipperary.     http://www.treeoftheyear.org/Letosni-rocnik/Libanonsky-cedr.aspx


Funding provided for Trees in the Townscape

Many will be aware of the landmark document produced by the Trees & Design Action Group (TDAG)  TREES IN THE TOWNSCAPE – A GUIDE FOR DECISION MAKERS.

Martin Kelly, TDAG Chair

Thanks to the success of the Reading Ride Fund4Trees has been able to provide much-needed funding to support a second printing of this important document. Martin Kelly, Chair of TDAG, wrote the following to Fund4Trees in thanks:

Trees in the Townscape was launched at a well-attended event at the Royal Geographical Society in June 2012. At the time our sponsorship budget limited the print version to a relatively small number of copies and it was intended that the document would then only be available as a free download on the TDAG website. Trees in the Townscape has had a very positive reception and further endorsements have been received since its launch. The printed document, in particular, has proved to be useful in promoting the 12 principles espoused and there has been a demand for further copies to be printed for wider dissemination to relevant decision makers, especially council leaders, CEOs and heads of planning. TDAG West Midlands and TDAG South-West are also planning launches for Trees in the Townscape for which the printed document will be a central feature.

As always, the TDAG membership responded very positively to a request for funds for the second print-run and TDAG was especially appreciative of the financial contribution made by the pro-active Fund4Trees with its Reading Ride for Research event in September as Trees in the Townscape provides a useful link across departments, sectors and professions to further the case for urban trees and also the case for urban tree research as part of the wider urban agenda. TDAG has a research working party and this will be contributing to analysing existing research on urban trees that is still relevant, research currently being undertaken and gaps in research to better inform the wider research agenda and also provide valuable guidance for the 2014 Urban Tree Research Conference to be chaired by Dr Mark Johnston and hosted by the ICF.

Chair Trees and Design Action Group

An online version is available for download from the TDAG website