some canopy scientists do know how to climb...

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12 years 7 months ago #131186 by MEA
Hi everyone,
I want to comment on what seems to be a common misconception on this site: that forest canopy researchers generally do not know how to climb trees.
For the past 7 years I have been part of a research group working in the coast redwoods of northern California and the mountain ash of southeastern Australia. Every member of our research team is an excellent climber who takes the utmost care not to harm the trees or the forest canopy ecosystem. Our climbing techniques have their origins in both mountaineering and arboriculture, and our techniques evolve as new tools become available. We are safe, careful, and conscientious climbers who explore the trees for the sake of learning about the trees and the life they support.
Respectfully,
MEA

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12 years 7 months ago #131188 by michaeljspraggon
Replied by michaeljspraggon on topic Re:some canopy scientists do know how to climb...
Hi there!

I did see one email a while back mentioning some researchers who seemed to be unsafe (I forget who sent it though!) but I can't believe this is a general opinion. After all, you guys do this for a living so you would have to be extremely competent or you wouldn't still be alive! I personally have nothing but admiration for the work you are doing.

Regards,
Michael

p.s. I think I know who you are. Did we meet at Windsor Great Park, England, in June 2005? (drinks by the cricket pavillion after the talk)

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12 years 7 months ago #131193 by oldtimer
MEA any photos and links to some of your research papers would be very educational for this group of tree enthusiasts!
Many times we only heard about the bad actors and the good ones never get even mentioned here or anywhere for that matter.

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12 years 7 months ago #131195 by MEA
Thanks for your reply!
For pictures and more info on our research I'll refer you to the following website:
www.humboldt.edu/~sillett/
Happy climbing...
MEA

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12 years 7 months ago #131196 by MEA
Hi Michael (I hope this response shows up next to your message...),
Thanks for your reply.
Yes, we likely met at Windsor Great Park. It was cool seeing those big old oaks.
All the best,
MEA

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12 years 7 months ago - 12 years 7 months ago #131202 by moss
If anyone doubts the quality of the climber's on Dr. Sillett's research team they haven't been paying attention. Across the entire group of people who go up into trees for scientific purposes there's is probably considerable range of skill. The same is true in the rec climbing world and in the work climber world.
-moss
Last edit: 12 years 7 months ago by moss.

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12 years 7 months ago #131204 by treeman
Hello MEA,
So tell me how you arrived at the impression that we feel canopy researchers don't know how to climb trees? I hope you aren't basing this on one of the postings, specifically Joe Maher's solo comment about his personal experience with ONE canopy researcher? I would get ticked off too if I read that kind of comment about recreational tree climbers at ICAN. If that is the case (jmahr's thread), please respond to that thread directly so we as a recreational tree climbing community have some point of reference to the origins or your impression and concerns.

If you feel we in general (recreational tree climbers)at this site have a misconception about canopy researchers, please let us know how you arrived at this. This is the oldest recreational tree climbing site- the first to go up of its kind. The threads on this particular site are over 5 years old. I have only deleted two entire threads in this site's history.

I have never seen canopy researchers talked down to here. There have been disagreements in the past between recreational climbers and canopy researchers but not outright discredit or disrespect. Are you sure you are addressing the right crowd here? Was it another web site? Was it a particular person? Is it an assumption or reaction from a posting here? Please let us know.

Waving from a treetop,
Peter Treeman Jenkins

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12 years 7 months ago - 12 years 7 months ago #131205 by oldtimer
I can agree with Treeman. In the many years that we have been posting stuff here and at other rec sites I have seen very few posting by Researchers and definitely do not remember anyone questioning their methods, practices or ways of doing their climbing.

Because many canopy researchers do this activity on a regular basis (probably daily) they have even more experience than the average Recreational Tree Climber that usually climbs on a weekend or even less and rarely tackles a huge tree like those on your photos.
So the persecption may not be correct that \"We\" think Tree Researchers are unsafe climbers.
By the way ... thanks for the \"link\" and photos of your research. Very educational!
:laugh:
Last edit: 12 years 7 months ago by oldtimer.

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12 years 7 months ago #131211 by MEA
Hi Treeman and Oldtimer,
Thank you very much for your feedback.
Two things prompted me to post that initial message in which I defended the climbing skills of our team:
First, there were a couple of postings (admittedly quite old!) on here that definitely seemed to suggest that researchers only cared about their research and not the climbing techniques or the trees themselves.
Second, in a recent video (Ascending the Giants) the recreational climbers cited their techniques as ones that tall-tree canopy researchers should learn from. They went on to use a Big Shot to shoot into the lowest branch, which would have then required lanyarding up and thereby impacting the lifeforms on many branches throughout the crown.
At any rate, I hope I haven't offended anyone on here, as that was certainly not my intent. I suppose that these sorts of misunderstandings often arise because of lack of communication, so thank you again for communicating with me.
All the best, and happy climbing!
~MEA

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12 years 7 months ago - 12 years 7 months ago #131212 by moss
MEA wrote:

...Second, in a recent video (Ascending the Giants) the recreational climbers cited their techniques as ones that tall-tree canopy researchers should learn from. They went on to use a Big Shot to shoot into the lowest branch, which would have then required lanyarding up and thereby impacting the lifeforms on many branches throughout the crown.


Hmmm... haven't seen this video, any links to it available? This is a problem with the term \"recreational climber\". There is a relatively small community of dedicated recreational climbers who try to adhere to a strict code of \"do not disturb\" when they're in the forest on the ground or in a tree. But if you consider the available pool of tree climbers in the U.S. you have a large number of working arborists, forest industry workers and random rec climbers who may or may not follow any wilderness ethical standards or may have their own less strict standard. When work climbers go climb a big tree on the weekend for fun they are transformed magically into rec climbers but mileage may vary on wilderness ethics. So my question is: who are these rec climbers in the \"Ascending the Giants\" video?

It's often mentioned on the arborist message boards that there is resentment that researchers want to limit access to the old-growth forest in the west. Definitely some tension there.
-moss
Last edit: 12 years 7 months ago by moss.

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12 years 7 months ago #131213 by treeman
Thanks for staying with us MAE,
No offense taken. I had my bets on the \"Canopy researchers can learn form (sp) us\" thread. While I still have your ear, I want to ask about this specific posting from your viewpoint as a top research climber. What is your reaction to reading this posting? Would it create a welcoming feeling or polarize you by being talked down to? I had not paid it much attention personally until you posted. It had me snooping a bit closer on the recent content on this forum. My immediate rereading of the post made me want to rename it- How to loose friends and alienate people. I felt guilty for not paying more attention. As you can see by posting dating, there is not a lot of dialog going on here on this forum. That's probably natural because scientists have a language and focus unique unto themselves. Thanks again for your visit.

I haven't heard of this new video. Is it a Jerry Berenak piece? I hope it's not an \"extreme\" piece. Hearst Productions in Hollywood called me shortly after \"The Wild Trees\" came out asking for details on how to shoot an extreme redwood climb. I rolled out some horror stories (liability risks) and sent him away. I forwarded the message to Steve as a joke but the e-mail address bounced.

Hmmm...researchers not caring for the trees they climb and technique\" ? That doesn't make a lot of sense. I'm sorry you had to take a stand on that issue.

On technique. How did you view the ART gear on the hemlock climb? Did it improve efficiency (disregarding the beauty of fine machine work). I use some ART gear, but I am unfamiliar with the lanyard and positioning devices. Just curious about applications.

Waving from a treetop,
Peter Treeman Jenkins

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12 years 7 months ago - 12 years 7 months ago #131214 by moss
treeman wrote:

...I had my bets on the \"Canopy researchers can learn form (sp) us\" thread. While I still have your ear, I want to ask about this specific posting from your viewpoint as a top research climber. What is your reaction to reading this posting? Would it create a welcoming feeling or polarize you by being talked down to? I had not paid it much attention personally until you posted. It had me snooping a bit closer on the recent content on this forum. My immediate rereading of the post made me want to rename it- How to loose friends and alienate people....


I hadn't read that post. It looks like Joe was focusing on a particular research climber and then made a tactical error by appearing to extend that climber's practices to the general research climbing community. As usual it's a bad idea to generalize about any one group of people. I'm sure Joe has all kinds of war stories about idiosyncratic research climbers he's bumped into over the years in Panama.

The only thing I can compare it to is the birding world where some ornithologists have a low opinion of birders. It's the expected tension between professional scientists and amateurs. Same with pro arbs and rec climbers, the pro's tend to look down their noses at weekend climbers. But... those are broad generalizations. In reality there's a tremendous opportunity for productive exchange of information and support between these various groups. In birding the concept of citizen science has really taken hold. The Cornell Ornithology Lab is leading the way with the eBird database and woodland breeding bird surveys which allow citizen birders to make important contributions to scientific research.

So how can rec tree climbers have a role in supporting scientific research? Rec climbers are in a unique position to do breeding bird surveys when they climb in the forest. Staying in a fixed position (except for vertical movement) for 3-6 hours in a tree allows an observer to ID by vocalization or visual all bird species present in the vicinity of the tree. Documenting tree height, girth and species could be very useful for a research database. Photographing and documenting canopy life forms: plant, insect and other on a regular basis could provide very useful information. Rec climbers have the potential to be the outlying eyes and ears for the research community, scientists can't be everywhere. Will Blozan (Google \"Tsuga Search\") in North Carolina is an excellent example of a non-scientist climber who is making a tremendous contribution to publicizing and understanding the ongoing Eastern Hemlock ecodisaster and is making huge and effective effort to save the tallest remaining Eastern and Carolina Hemlock in the east. In Georgia the Maher brothers have done some great work using their technical tree climbing skills to assist in pollen collecting and cross-fertilization of blight resistant American Chestnut. I really hope that the rec climbing community can become more involved in the efforts to understand and preserve healthy forest and canopy ecosystems. Maybe a forum on the rec climber and citizen science can be a part of the Rendezvous '08 agenda.
-moss
Last edit: 12 years 7 months ago by moss.

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12 years 7 months ago #131215 by MEA
Hi Moss,
You can watch Ascending the Giants on YouTube.
The problem that I see with recreational climbing in SOME of the western forests, particularly the rainforests, is that there are so many sensitive canopy organisms (epiphytes). Many of the fern mats, moss mats, and lichens that grow in the crowns of rainforest trees are centuries old, yet only tenuously attached to their host trees. One carelessly-placed rope or boot can permanently destroy these creatures and the biodiversity that they themselves support. Of course I speak only for myself here, but this my reason for hoping for restrictions on recreational climbing in old-growth western rainforests.
That said, there are plenty of trees in the west, such as giant Sequoia, which support very few epiphytes... and they are spectacular to climb...
~MEA

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12 years 7 months ago #131216 by MEA
P.S. Moss-- Will Blozan is AWESOME!

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12 years 7 months ago - 12 years 7 months ago #131217 by MEA
Hi Treeman,
You can watch Ascending the Giants on YouTube. I believe the production company is called Uncage the Soul.
I'm SO glad you didn't promote the 'extreme' redwood climb thing following The Wild Trees release... thank you.
I love my ART positioner (with a swivel)! But I'm a little confused... which hemlock climb are you referring to?
~MEA
Last edit: 12 years 7 months ago by MEA.

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