I remember every tree I’ve climbed, given trees are my passion since I can remember (apparently at the age of eight I stated I wanted to become a forester), this is a lot of trees.
I am not a climbing arborist, and one would guess climbing arborists would be less attached to each tree due to the quantity they have to climb, but this doesn’t seem to be the case.
I cannot list each tree, but the smell, the feel and sometimes fear of each climbing experience is still a much more powerful memory than many holidays and certainly many important life milestones (although alcohol may have played a part here).
The first tree I truly climbed, to the top, was a young Sequoia (planted the year of my birth) and I remember distinctly the extraordinary sensation of holding on tight as it swayed in the breeze. Exhilarating yet scary. Certainly addictive. And set me on a course to become fascinated by trees, a fascination accelerated by the fact that we hardly know anything about them, particularly their extraordinary relationship with soil, other trees and of course their relationship with us. A relationship which we treat with dangerous flippancy.
This first tree, now a handsome specimen, I heard yesterday may be cut down as development is proposed on the brownfield site it occupies.
There may be genuine reasons, as there often is and thus I can’t get angry, but it made me very sad indeed.
In this last year it is looking very likely that more trees have been felled across the world than any other previous year.
It is clear that many politicians across the world have simply given up on any attempt towards a sustainable agenda. Trees and forests are either in the way or a resource to be abused. Both those who work with trees and those who have engaged with them in their own way are clearly losing the battle at the moment. So we desperately need every initiative possible in order to keep the message clear, that if we continue to keep felling as we are now it is quite possible we threaten the lives of our children and certainly their children.
Therefore I applaud any initiative that encourages children to climb trees and therefore set off in their life with a respect generally lacking in our generation. Education is great and necessary – but fun is better and leads to backdoor, self driven education. Wouldn’t it be great if tree climbing became as popular an after school (or even in school) sport as karate or even football? It is just as exhilarating probably more so. It isn’t easy either and there is a huge range of techniques and manoeuvres which would make an arbolmypics possible and a damn sight more watchable – although perhaps I am biased a wee bit.
I met a chap recently who is planning to do just this in an urban setting. I am amazed there are not more.