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Crowning Achievements – Effect of ...

In crowded urban settings, planting the right tree in the right place means more than just avoiding power lines and other targets. To Dr. Henrik Sjöman, Swedish University of Agricultural Science (Gothenburg Botanic Garden), it also means knowing the beneficial qualities of individual tree species on the environment. In his research project, “The Role of Tree Species in Cooling the Urban Climate – Application in Tree Planting and Landscape Architecture,” funded by TREE Fund’s Jack Kimmel International Grant, Dr. Sjöman examined how different species of trees influence what humans experience and feel in terms of both real and perceived temperature comfort in complex urban environments in both summer and winter. By recording them into the microclimate model ENVI-met, Dr. Sjöman studied the impact of 62 tree species and genotypes in solitary areas such as pocket parks, residential areas, parking lots, along streets and more.

The data Dr. Sjöman acquired will supply tree planters and landscape architects with a tangible understanding of how tree species differ significantly when it comes to mitigating urban temperatures and thermal stress in the environment, providing them with even more justification for why and where a particular tree is required for a particular location. Learn more about the impact of individual tree species on the climate here

(Photo Credit: T. Recchia)

Leading Thoughts (March 2019)...

By J. Eric Smith, TREE Fund President and CEO

“Research” is the word that we use to define a set of protocols designed to help people turn subjective assumptions into (more) objective conclusions. It can take many forms, but the requirements of good research generally include:

  • Intellectual rigor in seeking out and considering credible sources beyond those easily available in the public domain, even when they are not in alignment with the researcher’s presumptions;
  • An ability and a willingness to compile and analyze qualitative and/or quantitative data using generally accepted statistical and scientific methods;
  • A clearly-defined method for testing those data against a hypothesis, followed by a willingness to allow results to be re-tested by others;
  • Independent affirmation of data and conclusions by peers in the field of research; and
  • The recognition of the research’s utility, via cites and references from other researchers in the field of study, or wide-spread adoption of findings.

That list may be a bit academic, and perhaps it’s worth flipping the definition and asking: So, what isn’t high quality research, really? Some red flags:

  • Using non-scientific public web sites (e.g. Wikipedia) as primary sources, since none of those sites index the countless proprietary resources that require library assistance to access;
  • Throwing out entire sectors of the printed and online media worlds because they do not cover certain topics in ways that the researcher may wish to see them covered;
  • Working in a vacuum, without the intellectual testing that comes from the healthy give-and-take of collegial debate and discourse;
  • Reaching conclusions that are only cited or referenced by other individuals who enter the realm of research with the same viewpoint as the researcher; and
  • Using shock tactics or logical fallacies to make pre-determined points.

When you compare those two lists, one point should become readily apparent: people can do the “bad research” list without many resources, where the “good research” list is far more dependent on the availability of skilled human, laboratory, field and/or financial resources. Which, of course, is where TREE Fund comes in: we’re one of a small number of funding sources for tree research projects, and we play a key role in developing rigorous findings that practitioners can trust, rather than depending on hearsay, half-baked experiments, gut feelings, or professional folklore.

Our next grant will push us over the $4.0 million mark in total funds expended to advance scientific discovery and disseminate new knowledge in our field. It’s an important milestone for our community, even as we look forward to empowering the next research project to answer the next burning question that faces us. Our grant-making processes are designed to inspire trust in our outcomes, and when you, our readers and supporters, are making professional tree care decisions with significant property impacts associated with them, you should expect – and demand – nothing less.

March 2019 News from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, TREE Press.

Leading Thoughts (February 2019)...

By J. Eric Smith, TREE Fund President and CEO

Last summer, I wrote a Leading Thoughts column on “trees as inspiration,” sharing my affection for a wonderful work-in-progress book about ginkgos by Jimmy Shen, a professional botanic photographer based in east China. Last month, my column focused on another book, The Overstory by Richard Powers, a powerful novel about the ways that trees can shape our lives, from birth to death, and maybe beyond.

I received more feedback on those two columns than I did from any of the others I’ve written here, I think because those of us who count ourselves as “tree people” generally don’t leave our interest in trees at our work sites but are also awed and moved by them in our personal lives as well. We look for and admire great trees in the cities, fields and forests where we work, live and travel, and then we also seek out opportunities to celebrate trees in books, art, music, and in all of the other myriad of creative arts.

On one of our recent snow days, I bundled up and walked over to the Art Institute of Chicago – my favorite place in my favorite city, hands down – and wandered around the various galleries there as I often do. In the 19th Century European Art collection, I saw a wonderful painting that I’d not noticed before by Albert Bierstadt, depicting a glorious stand of birches around a rocky waterfall, and I shared a photo of it in on the TREE Fund Twitter feed.

And then I decided to have a full tree day at the museum, walking through every gallery, seeking out great trees in the collection. It was a wonderful way to re-experience galleries that I’ve seen more times than I can count, looking through a different lens at paintings, decorative arts, sculptures, and more. I found abstract trees, photographic trees, and impressionist trees. I was awed by the ways that artists were inspired by trees over centuries and around the world. I shared my findings on social media, and they were widely liked, commented on, and retweeted.

A couple of weeks later, I was home again and the song “The Trees” by the BritPop band Pulp came up on my stereo. Once again, thinking about trees, I decided to have a tree music day, going through the 14,000+ songs that I have on my computer, looking for great ones about trees, woods, forests, and more. I posted my 25 favorite tree songs on my personal website and once again got loads of comments, feedback, and response from others about their favorite tree songs. People just love tree art, in all of its forms.

I recommend you have your own museum tree day, or make a tree song playlist, or look at some other creative idiom through tree lenses. It’s truly rewarding to actively consider how the trees we care for professionally enhance our lives beyond their scientific and landscape value.

February 2019 News from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, the TREE Press.

TREE Fund Announces Grant Awards to Bene...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Teresa Recchia
trecchia@treefund.org
630-369-8300 x-203

News release in PDF format

 

TREE Fund Announces Grant Awards to Benefit Urban Forest

Naperville, IL, February 14, 2019 – TREE Fund has awarded $95,000 for urban tree research in its fall 2018 grant-making season. With these new awards, the 501(c)3 charity has provided nearly $4.0 million in grants and scholarships since its inception in 2002.

“TREE Fund’s highly competitive Fall 2018 grants provide a snapshot into the ways that research can provide crucial answers and tools for the global community of skilled tree care professionals, with investigations into invasive species resistance, drought tolerance, canopy mapping and tree failure mechanisms adjacent to overhead power lines,” explains TREE Fund President and CEO J. Eric Smith. “By providing robust scientific examinations in such key fields of inquiry, TREE Fund is fostering safer work environments for tree care professionals, alongside better planning for and management of our urban and community forests. We’re grateful to the researchers for their insight and skill, and to the thousands of donors who make our work possible.”

 

2018 TREE Fund Fall Cycle Research Grant Recipients

 2018 John Z. Duling Grant

Jeanne Romero-Severson, PhD (University of Notre Dame) is investigating why a tiny percentage of ash trees have survived the emerald ash borer (EAB) invasion. In her study, “A three pronged approach to understanding the defensive mechanisms in green ash (Fraxinus, pennsylvanica) resistant to EAB (Agrilus planipennis),” Dr. Romero-Severson will work to identify (1) groups of chemical compounds that fight off EAB in individual green ash trees, (2) the genes that produce these compounds and (3) the best group of offspring from parent trees having the highest defensive responses. The hope is that this work will someday lead to reducing EAB from a deadly plague to a minor pest.

 

2018 Jack Kimmel International Grants

 
Jack Kimmel International Grants are supported by Canadian TREE Fund and its riders in the Tour des Trees outreach and fundraising event

Benoit St-Onge, PhD (University of Quebec at Montreal, Canada) is using LIDAR data for characterizing individual trees and features of the urban forest at the neighborhood level in his study, “Automated mapping and spatial analysis of the urban forest using LIDAR to improve management.” This information will help guide municipalities in creating an urban forest that has a positive impact on human health and is more resilient to climate change and invasive insect species.

Brandon Kyle Winfrey, PhD (Monash University, Australia) seeks to evaluate the importance of mycorrhizae, a type of fungus, on improving an immature tree’s ability to reach otherwise inaccessible water in the soil. In his study, “Enhancing tree health in water sensitive urban design: role of mycorrhizae,” Dr. Winfrey will evaluate mycorrhizae’s ability to improve plant health in stormwater biofilters during extended dry periods.
 

2018 Sponsored Grant

Gregory A. Dahle, PhD (Environmental Consultants, LLC d.b.a. ECI) will review what is known about tree failures from roots, stems or branches, concentrating on why seemingly healthy trees fail in the project, “Development of a regional research approach to modeling tree failure risk probability affecting distribution overhead lines.” This study will lay the groundwork for a future one that will collect tree failure data and develop failure models to help utilities improve vegetation management and thus, enhance power reliability and public safety while reducing costs.

Note: This project is sponsored by Utility Arborist Association

 

About TREE Fund

Tree Research and Education Endowment (TREE) Fund is a 501(c)3 charity dedicated to the discovery and international dissemination of new knowledge in urban forestry and arboriculture (the science of caring for trees in a landscape). TREE Fund awards scholarships and education grants to engage and support the next generation of tree stewards, and multiple research grants to improve the science, safety and practice of arboriculture.

With support from individual donors and Partners, TREE Fund research has contributed to:

  • Improving conditions for tree growth in difficult sites
  • Developing strategies to manage diseases and pests that affect urban trees
  • Improving utility line clearing practices
  • Understanding air pollution reduction and carbon sequestration by trees
  • Determining the costs and benefits of urban trees

For more information, visit treefund.org.

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ISA Issues RFP for Literature Reviews in...

The International Society of Arboriculture’s Science and Research Committee (SRC) is accepting proposals Feb. 1 through March 15, 2019, for literature reviews on topics within the following themes:

  • Tree Benefits and Public Awareness (e.g., quantifying tree benefits, public awareness
    of trees and their benefits, public perception of arborists and urban foresters)
  • Plant Health Care (e.g., tree diagnostic practices, application of integrated pest
    management, abiotic disorder management)
  • Urban and Community Forestry (e.g., tree species diversity, climate change effects on
    the urban forest, inventories and management plans, strategic management, planning
    and design of resilient urban forests)
  • Tree Care and Preservation (e.g., pruning techniques, preservation ordinances,
    balancing tree risk and tree benefits)

While this is NOT a TREE Fund grant, we proudly champion quality tree research and are pleased to share this announcement on behalf of our partner ISA.

Read the RFP and get more details HERE

Leading Thoughts (January 2019)...

By J. Eric Smith, TREE Fund President and CEO

It’s always an extra treat to travel when you’re a tree nerd, since you get to play “canopy compare and contrast” between your home turf and your destination(s) while you are abroad. My wife and I greeted 2019 with a trip to London and  Paris, and my FitBit tells me we walked 160,000 steps (about 80 miles) over the course of the week, much of that time spent with me ooo-ing and ahh-ing at special street trees or historic park trees or “what the heck is that?” trees we passed as we ambled about.

I love London Planes (Platanus × acerifolia) anywhere I spot them, and it was   particularly delightful to see so many mighty specimens at the heart of their namesake city, their dappled trunks striking in sun or shade, and their distinctive seed balls providing “winter interest” as you surveyed the streetscape. In Paris we strolled the Bois de Boulogne with its native and curated forests, and we admired the Tilias that abound throughout the city, and which lay people call  lindens, or basswoods, or limes, depending on where they make their homes.

We spent a lot of time in airplanes getting to and from Europe, and also had a nice EuroStar train trip via the “Chunnel” between London and Paris. This gave me a hefty amount of quiet time to read (more than I normally have, anyway), and the tree nerd in me was happy with that prospect, too, as I read a most  remarkable book about trees, and people, and people and trees called The Overstory by Richard Powers.

I have to assume that if you’re reading this article in the TREE Fund newsletter that you’re at least a little bit of a tree nerd yourself, too, and so I most heartily recommend this book to you. It’s a transcendent novel that twines the tales of a half dozen wildly dissimilar humans into a single, solid, towering, powerful creative monument, with every step of the story given shape and substance by trees. The New York Times perhaps captured this concept best in their review of the book, where they noted “humans are merely underbrush; the real protagonists are trees.”

While The Overstory clearly resonates with those who don’t necessarily love or know their trees (it was shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize, awarded to the best novel in the English language issued each year), it was positively electrifying to me given my professional avocation. It’s not every day that mycorrhizal networks pop up and play key roles in a work of fiction, after all, but they’re quiet superstars here.

Like all great novels, The Overstory leaves the reader with a lot to consider when it’s run its course, and while not everyone may agree with all of Powers’ implied or explicit lessons or morals, I can guarantee that his words, his stories, the magic of his prose, and most of all his trees will resonate with you all. Happy reading, and let me know what you think!

January 2019 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, the TREE Press.

Leading Thoughts (December 2018)...

By J. Eric Smith, TREE Fund President and CEO

As I write my final “Leading Thoughts” column for 2018, we are deep into TREE Fund’s annual year-end operating appeal. I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector for a long time, so I’ve come to associate these appeals with the season: there’s turkey, there’s shopping, there’s revelry, there’s resolutions, and in the midst of all that, there’s a last push to raise funds, to give donors both “feel-good” experiences and year-end tax benefits. 

I wrote back in September about how changes in Federal law may impact the tax benefit of those gifts, but also how important it is that we all still “keep charity charitable,” empowering and celebrating the good work that nonprofits do in so many ways, in so many places, for so many people. That charitable intent is particularly important when it comes to the unrestricted operating funds that many year-end appeals support. They may not have pizazz of brick and mortar giving, nor the permanence of endowments, but they are crucial to what we do.

For some folks outside of the nonprofit world, that phrase – “unrestricted operating funds” – may have unintended negative connotations: “Wait, you can do anything you want with it? Are you going to just spend it on overhead? Is that okay? Maybe I’d better give to this restricted endowment pool instead.” But all it really means is that we have the flexibility to support our “areas of greatest need” internally, and for TREE Fund, that need largely equates to people!

When you remove grants we pay from our operating budget, about three-quarters of the remaining expenses pay for the folks who actually do the work to fulfill our mission – and do it well, if it’s not inappropriate for me to say so. That’s Barb managing the grants, Karen communicating our research findings, Monika educating our donors, Maggie managing community engagement, including the Tour des Trees that Paul directs, Dipika keeping the books, and Russ ensuring our computer systems support it all. Plus me, often on the road, doing my best to champion tree science and the professionals who benefit from it.

Some of those folks you may know, some not. Some are employees, some are contractors, some part-time, some full. All are passionate about our mission, work hard to pursue it, and are largely supported by unrestricted operating funds, secured via appeals, partnership or events. So anytime you email, call, engage on social media, read a newsletter article, share a research finding, or see a TREE Fund team member in person giving you great service in pursuit of our shared goal, then that’s what “unrestricted operating funds” are all about: it’s the people who make the mission.

I hope you’ll support our team, just as I do with my own family’s gifts to TREE Fund. They earn your trust; they are good stewards of your gifts. I’m proud to work with them all.

December 2018 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, the TREE Press. This issue also includes our new Research Report, a quarterly publication that features more in-depth research coverage.

Leading Thoughts (November 2018)...

By J. Eric Smith, TREE Fund President and CEO

Strategic planning is a key governance responsibility for nonprofit boards. The ideal planning process can be broadly viewed as an iterative, two-part undertaking. In the first part of the process, an organization defines a vision for the future that is consonant with its mission. In the second part of the process, the organization then allocates financial, capital and human resources toward achieving this vision. The two parts of the process must be linked with regular feedback mechanisms that allow both vision and resource allocation to evolve, together, to meet emergent opportunities and challenges.

Last year, TREE Fund’s Board of Trustees went through such a thorough planning and visioning process that resulted in a Board-approved three year Strategic Plan that we’ve been using to guide our activities since January 1, 2018. As we approach the end of the first year of this plan, I’m pleased to note that we’re on track with all deliverables, and looking ahead to 2019 with a strong and clear sense of where we want to be, and what we need to do to get there. As a nonprofit executive, I can tell you from first-hand experience that it is a true professional boon to have such a clear and solid plan in place, and to have such strong buy-in from the board for implementing it.

That being said, good strategic planners must recognize a principle most eloquently elucidated by General Dwight D. Eisenhower during planning for the invasion of Normandy: “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” Planning is a dynamic, ongoing enterprise, not an occasional activity resulting in a static, printed plan that is likely to become obsolete soon after it is created. Planning is a process, plans are tools – and no tool should ever be given precedence over the process it supports.

So as we work to wind down our 2018 program year in a position of strength, we need to evaluate what we’ve done and what we’ve learned, and revisit our plan through that lens, ideally adding another year to the back end as we call it a wrap on the front-end year. A key part of this process is feedback from our stakeholders, so I invite you all to look at our plan on the About/Documents page of our website, and let us know if you think we’re missing any marks or need to consider different, new or better ways to continue fulfilling our charitable mission and provide excellent service to you, our supporters and customers.

November 2018 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, the TREE Press.

New Grants Available in 2019...

TREE Fund is pleased to announce the completion of two endowment funds which will both issue inaugural grants in 2019. 

The $25,000 Bob Skiera Memorial Fund Building Bridges Initiative Grant supports projects which will help arborists and urban foresters communicate the value of trees and urban forests on a national basis through technology transfer and engagement with developers, builders, civil engineers, city planners, elected officials and other policymakers. 

The $10,000 Barborinas Family Fund Grant supports projects focused on tree planting and transplantation techniques, and the improvement of tree varieties for urban conditions, to include investigations into root and soil science. 

Many thanks to the Skiera and Barborinas families for their visionary leadership on these funds, and to all who helped make these grants a reality.

Leading Thoughts (October 2018)...

By J. Eric Smith, TREE Fund President and CEO

Earlier this month, I attended the International Urban Forestry Congress (IUFC) in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Congress was a unique gathering presented by Tree Canada, Pacific Northwest Chapter of ISA, University of British Columbia,
Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, and other partners. Nearly 800 people from 30 countries participated, and we were blessed with fascinating and useful lectures, engaging panel discussions, exceptional networking opportunities, and an unparalleled “battery charging” opportunity to spend time with colleagues away from our proverbial trenches, sharing our passions for urban forests around our ever-more-connected (for better or worse) tiny blue marble of a planet.

It was good to be reminded that TREE Fund is part of that global research network, and not just an Illinois corporation, nor just a United States nonprofit, nor just a North American charity. This is reflected in our grantmaking programs: in partnership with the Canadian TREE Fund, we typically award two Jack Kimmel International Grants annually, and a growing number of grants from our other programs have been going abroad in recent years too.

I know some readers may not consider this a positive trend, since I have had domestic partners challenge me on why they should support us if we are sending money overseas, just as I have had ISA Chapters ask why they should support us if researchers in their regions are not receiving TREE Fund grants. Regionalism is a strong force among human beings, nationally and internationally. But trees (and their symbiotic companions and parasitic predators) do not recognize property lines, nor do they hew to municipal borders, nor do they heed state lines, nor do they respect international borders.

Trees are migratory organisms across our ever-changing world, as they slowly and naturally respond to global environmental changes, or rapidly stake out new turf when we select them to line streets and shade homes on continents where nature never would have taken them. And while human preferences and prejudices vary widely from nation to nation, both native and non-native urban trees living in temperate Mediterranean climates like those found in Beirut, Perth, Los Angeles, Rome, Tunis and elsewhere may benefit from exactly the same areas of rigorous scientific inquiry, regardless of where the researchers disclosing it live and work.

I say all this as an older, pragmatic and practical American professional, and not as an inexperienced, pie-in-the-sky Utopian. Trees are a global resource, and tree science is globally relevant, regardless of any of our social, economic, religious or political leanings. TREE Fund is a small – but mighty – player in this planetary network, and we become stronger every time we gather with colleagues from around the world on behalf of the planet’s urban canopies.

October 2018 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, the TREE Press.

Is that tie-in point safe to use?...

By Brian Kane, PhD, Massachusetts Arborists Association Professor of Commercial Arboriculture at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst

Figure 1 shows the Straightpoint LLC load cell used to measure forces during the Ascent event at the 2017 ITCC in Washington, DC.

Tree climbing is an inherently dangerous task. Working at height is dangerous by itself; but add the use of sharp cutting tools and rigged pieces of wood to the job, and it’s not surprising that our industry has a comparatively high incident rate. To increase safety while climbing, climbers must choose a tie-in-point (TIP) that can bear the loads applied as the climber ascends and then works in the tree. Failure of the TIP isn’t an everyday occurrence, but it has happened, even during an ascent. To reduce the likelihood of failure of the TIP, climbers attempt to assess its load-bearing capacity by visual inspection and performing a “bounce test,” but very little research has explored the likelihood of TIP failure.

In 2017, at the ITCC in Washington, DC, I measured forces at the TIP during the “Ascent” event – this is the event that replaced the secured footlock. From the measurements, I wanted to learn how large were the forces at the TIP, what was their frequency of application, and whether they differed among different ascent techniques that competitors used. Most competitors used two foot ascenders, but some footlocked and others used a single foot ascender.

To measure forces, the team running the Ascent event installed a load cell between the anchor point on the tree and the rigging hub that climbers attached their lines to. The load cell (Figure 1), made by Straightpoint LLC, measures the force 100 times each second, so it’s possible to obtain a detailed record of the forces throughout each competitor’s ascent—this is called a force time history. Figure 2 shows the force time history for a ten second segment of one competitor’s footlock—it might remind you of an EKG. The time history shows a series of peak forces as the climber extended their body upwards after locking the rope with their feet. The peak forces occur at regular time intervals, which describes the frequency of peak forces, that is, how many peak forces occur in a specified time interval. Using two foot ascenders applied about the same force as footlocking, but at twice the frequency—twice as many peaks in the same time interval.

Figure 2 The black line shows changes in the load on an anchor point during ten seconds of an ascent.

To assess the likelihood of failure of a TIP during an ascent, we need to know both the amount of the peak force, and how frequently it’s applied. The reason for this is because as its loaded by the ascending climber, the TIP bounces up and down. The interaction of the repeated application of peak loads with the natural tendency of the TIP to respond by bouncing may cause the effect of the force to be multiplied. This means that even if the peaks are well below the load-bearing capacity of the TIP, the bouncing action can increase the likelihood of failure.

In general, peak forces were about 1.3 – 1.4 times body weight, and, depending on how long the ascent lasted, there could be 20 – 50 peak loads in total. This type of loading on the TIP is very different from slowly applying a force with a winch to a branch to measure attachment strength of branches, indicating that future experiments should consider applying forces to the TIP that would mimic the forces applied during an ascent.

This work wouldn’t have been possible without a John Z. Duling grant from TREE Fund, which paid for the Straightpoint, LLC load cell. One of the limitations of the data collected at the ITCC is that the TIP was atypically large (which was a necessary safety precaution when more than 60 competitors would be ascending during the event). To address this limitation, and using the same Straightpoint LLC load cell, I am currently measuring forces during ascents on TIPs of typical size. And I plan to repeat those measurements when the trees are leafless to see how much of an effect the leaves have on damping the bounce motion of the TIP. With funds from the Duling grant, I also purchased two Straightpoint LLC “Impact Blocks”—arborist rigging blocks with built-in load cells—to measure forces in rigging systems, which I have been doing this summer. I think these projects, and others I’ve worked on that TREE Fund has previously supported, will help arborists work more safely, and I’m grateful for TREE Fund’s support.

 

You can find more details about measuring forces during the 2017 ITCC in the following publications:

  • Kane, B. 2018. Loading experienced by a tie-in point during ascents. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 34:78-84.
  • Kane, B. 2018. Understanding the likelihood of failure of an anchor point during an ascent: Part II. Arborist News 27(2):56-57.
  • Kane, B. 2018. Understanding the likelihood of failure of an anchor point during an ascent: Part I. Arborist News 27(1):58-60.

 

Dr. Brian Kane is the Massachusetts Arborists Association Professor of Commercial Arboriculture at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. He has published over 50 scholarly papers, most of them have considered topics in arboricultural biomechanics and tree worker safety. He previously served on the ISA’s Board of Directors and currently chairs the Nominating and Elections Committee. Before joining academia, he worked as a production arborist and he maintains his ISA Certified Arborist credential. He has competed in several regional tree climbing championships, placing 4th in New England in 2006.

 

See Dr. Kane’s research supported by TREE Fund.

Watch Arboricultural Biomechanics, a 2018 TREE Fund webinar featuring Dr. Kane.

Behind the Research: Meet Dr. Brian Kane

 

Behind the Research: Meet Dr. Brian Kane...

It’s the first day of school at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Dr. Brian Kane is back from sabbatical. Amid the flurry of campus activity, Dr. Kane takes a break to talk about his background and work with me. Dr. Kane, the Massachusetts Arborists Association Professor of Commercial Arboriculture at UMass Amherst, is a leading figure in arboricultural biomechanics and tree worker safety, focusing his research on tree failure and gear failure. With his unassuming, casual manner, it’s surprising to know that he is one of very few people who study this complex area of the physics underlying tree failure and arboricultural practices like pruning, cabling, rigging and climbing.

Brian grew up outside of New York City and remembers his early interest in trees was piqued by his dad’s Audubon Tree Guide book. He ran a landscaping business as a kid and loved climbing for a local municipal tree crew, but it took a degree in Political Science and an unsatisfactory desk job before he realized that the one constant throughout his life was that he liked trees. So he enrolled at UMass Amherst for a masters in Arboriculture and later a PhD, and he hasn’t looked back since.

At the start of his academic career, Brian was interested in the strength loss formulas that predicted the likelihood of tree failure based on how much decay existed in the trunk and branches. The formulas were theoretically sound, but had not been tested for reliability in real life scenarios. What he discovered was that the formulas did not take enough variables into account for such a complex assessment. His work played a role in the development of ISA’s tree risk assessment qualification (TRAQ), which has helped to make the risk assessment process more objective.

Brian’s current work is focused on arborist safe work practices where there is a deficit of research. Specifically he’s exploring the forces that occur (1) when a climber ascends into a tree and (2) in different parts of a rigging system. Because there are so many variables that affect the likelihood of tree failure and many different climbing and rigging techniques and tools, it’s virtually impossible to come up with a formula for the safest way to climb or rig every tree. Dr. Kane sees his work as laying the groundwork for safety improvements by helping us understand the physics underlying rigging and climbing. This knowledge allows us to identify the key points or variables for improved safety or reducing the likelihood of failure.

As you might imagine, conducting arboricultural biomechanics research involves everything from people climbing trees to crunching physics and math equations. Dr. Kane emphasizes that his work is a collaborative effort, and he is grateful for all the help from his students, alumni, colleagues in the university’s Engineering school, etc. And he’s also happy to use himself as a test subject – just another reason to continue climbing trees after all these years. 

 

Read Dr. Kane’s September 2018 article, Is that tie-in point safe to use?

See Dr. Kane’s research supported by TREE Fund.

Watch Arboricultural Biomechanics, a 2018 TREE Fund webinar featuring Dr. Kane.

Leading Thoughts (September 2018)...

By J. Eric Smith, TREE Fund President and CEO

As the leaves begin to color and drop here in Northern Illinois over the next few weeks, we will be rolling out our individual year-end fundraising appeal, as hard as it is to believe that the end of the fiscal year is already drawing near. We’re on track for another great year in 2018, but the unrestricted operating funds earned via the year-end appeal are crucial to our ongoing success, so my thanks to all in advance for considering us in your charitable plans in the weeks ahead.

The “charitable” component of that sentiment is more important than usual this year, as many of you are no doubt evaluating how changes in the Federal tax code could impact the deductibility of your gifts to TREE Fund and other nonprofits. While TREE Fund is not in the business of providing financial advice, we do know that many of you may find it financially beneficial this year to use the increased standard deduction in lieu of itemizing your deductions (including charitable giving), which will reduce the strictly financial tax return benefit you receive from each dollar of your charitable giving in 2018.

I respectfully hope, though, that you do not change your giving plans for that reason, since the charitable good you do for TREE Fund is actually independent of any quid pro quo tax benefit you receive as a result of your philanthropy. Charity is, by its very definition, the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need – and TREE Fund does indeed need your continued support if we are to build on and expand our research and education programs going forward, especially as Federal funding for urban forestry may decline in parallel with lower revenues from Federal taxes.

TREE Fund is a charity, at bottom line, worthy of support for the good work we do, and for the benefits that our research and education results deliver to communities around the world. It is only through your charitable support that we are fully able to be a force for good in the world, funding vital, beneficial work that few others do. I’ve spent most of my career in the nonprofit sector, and I know that when push comes to shove, that sense of doing something righteous, and making a difference through your gifts, is the truly fundamental motivator for donors, one that resonates deeply in ways that simple monetary benefit from tax deductibility cannot.

Here’s hoping you share that sentiment with me, and that we can continue to count on you to do good for a good cause this year when you receive a letter from me asking for your support in the weeks ahead. You may or may not receive a meaningful tax benefit from giving to us this year, but the moral and ethical benefit of sharing your resources openly and without restriction on behalf of TREE Fund or other charities you respect is profound and lasting. At the end of the day, it’s simply a good thing to do – and I remain personally committed to ensuring that we leverage your support widely, and serve as responsible stewards for funds entrusted to our care.

 

Your voice on the future of arboricultur...

TREE Fund’s booth at this year’s International Society of Arboriculture Annual Conference in Columbus, OH, centered on “The Future of Arboriculture,” so booth visitors were asked to vote for the topics they feel are most important to the future of arboriculture.

Given that tree care is a dangerous field, it’s not surprising that safety, including workforce practices, tree biomechanics, and risk assessment and management was seen as the number one area on which to focus. Right behind safety was the foundation of arboriculture – roots and soil research. Participants also cited climate change and extreme weather as an important factor impacting the future of the field. Rounding out the top five responses were pests/invasives/diseases and the labor challenges the tree care industry currently faces, including recruiting, training, and engaging women in the workforce.

The good news is that TREE Fund research and initiatives are right in line with these priorities. You can find studies and resources related to each topic by clicking the links below.

  1. Safety/biomechanics/risk assessment and management – In addition, the Frank E. Gamma, Sr. Arboriculture Education Fund supports workforce safety training through TCIA’s Arborist Safety Training Institute.
  2. Roots and soil
  3. Climate change and extreme weather
  4. Pests/invasives/diseases
  5. Workforce – Many of our Arboriculture Education Grants have funded programs designed to get youth outdoors and interested in careers in tree care. Our scholarships support students training for work in arboriculture and urban forestry. The Collier Arborist Training Trust Fund has been established to foster, promote, and support the teaching of practical applied arboriculture.

Thank you to all who participated in the voting!

 

September 2018 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, the TREE Press. This issue also includes our new Research Report, a quarterly publication that features more in-depth research coverage.

Landscape Below Ground IV: International...

The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL
Monday, October 15 through Wednesday, October 17

Since 1993, the Landscape Below Ground Conference has provided a forum for presentation of the latest research and management practices in all aspects of tree root development in urban soils.

Register before October 8 for an unparalleled opportunity to learn about the latest research and best management practices for establishing and maintaining trees’ roots in challenging urban situations. Top scientists and practitioners from around the world (including many TREE Fund researchers) will present knowledge from a wide range of disciplines, to help managers and policymakers choose, site, plant, and care for healthier, longer-lived trees by focusing on trees’ critical and vulnerable root systems. Speakers will address such topics as the design and constraints of planting trees in urban streetscapes, nursery production, soil selection and amendment, tree root architecture, and tree stability.

Learn more and register.

Leading Thoughts (August 2018)...

By J. Eric Smith, TREE Fund President and CEO

When I was hired as TREE Fund’s President and CEO three years ago, I was asked to provide some biographical information to help our supporters get a sense of who I was and what I was bringing to the organization. One of the questions posed – “What’s your favorite tree?” – seemed to be a simple one, but it actually was and remains something of a stumper for me. 

How do you answer that question, really? As a tree lover (or tree nerd, per my family), it’s a challenge right up front to decide whether to pick a single species, or a single individual. I lived in Latham, New York for nearly 20 years, and there was one huge white willow tree (Salix alba) in my neighborhood that I adored every time I passed by it, but if I picked
that one, then it wouldn’t be meaningful to anybody outside of Latham. In my column here two months ago, I wrote about a longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) at my childhood home that was wrapped tightly with wisteria vines. I loved it dearly as a kid, but know as an adult that it was a poorly located mess, just begging for removal.

So picking individual trees is probably a bad idea for media purposes, but is picking a single species any easier? My opinions change by the minute, depending on where I am or the time of the year. Right now in Chicago, I am loving the swamp white oaks (Quercus bicolor), and I can’t resist reaching out and stroking their leaves when I walk past them; shiny and leathery on top, fuzzy and soft on the bottom, just wonderful for tactile people like me. But a month or so ago, as I was training for the Tour des Trees, the American Lindens (Tilia Americana) were in bloom, and their
tiny sweet flowers were like giant collective air fresheners for the city, making my riding experience more deliciously fragrant than is normally the case in a huge city like mine.

How could I pick one of those species over the other? Or over the one that moves me the most next month, or in the next city I visit? Honestly, I couldn’t, and can’t. But three years ago, I felt like I needed to give some answer to that seemingly innocuous question, lest I come across as difficult to our staff, so I picked the Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana), the tree most closely identified with my Low Country South Carolina roots. (Well, other than our State tree, Sabal palmetto – but that’s technically a grass). So that’s what the record shows, and it’s a reasonable answer, I guess, but I am reserving the right to change it, today, tomorrow, and any time in the future.

New Tree Species Selection Guide Availab...

Sjöman

Hirons

TREE Fund researchers, Dr. Andrew Hirons and Dr. Henrik Sjöman, have just published Tree Species Selection for Green Infrastructure: A Guide for Specifiers, a new, free guide written to assist anyone with an interest in selecting trees for green infrastructure – including arborists, architects, civil and structural engineers, designers, landscape architects, landscape contractors, non-profit organizations, urban planners, and other tree stewards.

The publication provides guidance on selecting appropriate species for a range of contrasting planting scenarios, and it includes information for over 280 species on their use-potential, size and crown characteristics, natural habitat, environmental tolerance, ornamental qualities, potential issues to be aware of, and notable varieties.

Some of the advice in this guide is based on findings from research funded by TREE Fund. You can read or download a copy of the guide HERE.

 

2019 Tour des Trees: Save the Dates...

The 2019 Tour des Trees will take place September 15 to September 21, 2019, with a planned hub in Nashville, and a route that will take riders through Kentucky and Tennessee. Mark your calendar, and get more details about the ride HERE

TREE Fund awards over a quarter million ...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Karen Lindell

klindell@treefund.org

630-369-8300 x-203

News release in PDF format 

 

TREE Fund awards over a quarter million dollars for

tree research and education projects

Naperville, IL, August 13, 2018 – TREE Fund has awarded over $260,000 for urban tree research and education in its spring 2018 grant-making season. With these new awards, the 501(c)3 charity has provided over $3.6 million in grants and scholarships since its inception in 2002.

“Our spring round of awards this year continues TREE Fund’s strong commitment to preserving our core research and education grant-making portfolio, while aggressively pursuing new lines to support and sustain our industry,” says TREE Fund President and CEO J. Eric Smith. “We were particularly proud to award the first Utility Arborist Research Fund research grant and Bonnie Appleton Memorial Fund scholarship this year after completing those campaigns in 2017, and our innovative new partnership with Penn State Altoona, Asplundh, Corteva, PECO and FirstEnergy to continue vegetation management work at the historic Bramble and Byrnes test site in Pennsylvania demonstrates the creative ways we are collaborating with our partners to meet ongoing research needs effectively and efficiently, now and in the years to come.”   

 

2018 TREE Fund Research Grant Recipients

Hyland R. Johns Research Grant

Andrew Hirons, PhD (Myerscough College, UK) and Co-Investigator Henrik Sjöman, PhD (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden) aim to improve tree selection for stormwater management schemes and sites prone to waterlogging. In the study, “Enhancing the performance of urban storm water management schemes with tree selection: developing a new approach to accessing waterlogging tolerance in temperate trees,” Drs. Hirons and Sjöman will look at trees’ decline in sapflow under waterlogging and use this to quantitatively evaluate waterlogging tolerance. Data will be collected on the species’ drought tolerance as well. This combination of data will provide guidance on which species will perform best in these situations.

Safe Arborist Techniques Fund Grant

Alexander Laver (Tree Logic, working with Coventry University, UK) will use motion capture equipment to map the movements of a tree climber within the canopy of a tree. “Optimised techniques for arboreal activities” will then analyze the effect of different climbing methods on the climber’s body. The goal of this project is to be able to recommend best climbing methods that can keep climbers fit and healthy for a full and long career.

 

Utility Arborist Research Fund Grant

John Goodfellow (Bio-Compliance Consulting, Inc.) will supplement his previous work on constructing an economic business case for Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) on electric transmission rights-of-way (ROW) in this new study called, “The cost-effectiveness of integrated vegetation management.” This project will consider the many benefits of IVM, and will result in a more holistic assessment that includes both economic considerations and environmental externalities associated with IVM. The project will also include application of IVM methods on pipeline ROW. The goal is to produce a reference that will be useful to practitioners in selecting the least-costly and most beneficial ROW vegetation management techniques from a longer-term perspective of sustainability.

Sponsored Grant

Carolyn G. Mahan, PhD (Penn State Altoona) seeks to evaluate floral and faunal response to right-of-way management at three sites in Pennsylvania, including State Game Lands 33. “Long term effects of electrical right-of-way vegetation management on floral and faunal communities” will be conducted cooperation with the Center for Pollinator Research and the Frost Entomological Museum at Penn State University. 

Note: This project is sponsored by Asplundh Tree Experts, LLC; Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont; FirstEnergy Corp; and PECO Energy Company (an Exelon Company).

 

2018 TREE Fund Education Grant Recipients

Frank E. Gamma, Sr. Arboriculture Education Fund

Tree Care Industry Association Foundation (Londonderry, NH) – This grant supports the Arborist Safety Training Institute that brings high quality, local, and affordable safety training to working arborists. ASTI provides grants for job and safety training to minimize injury and promote overall workforce safety.

Ohio Chapter ISA Education Grant

Kent Roosevelt High School Forestry and Landscape Management Program (Kent, OH) – “Setting Young People Up for a Future in Arboriculture” is a program for high school students interested in tree care. With this grant, the school can provide students with updated climbing gear for an enhanced learning experience.

 

 

2018 TREE Fund Scholarship Recipients

$5,000 Robert Felix Memorial Scholarship

  • Jackson Chandler, Brigham Young University
  • Katrina Henn, Mississippi State University
  • Kaitlyn Pike, DePaul University

$3,000 Horace M. Thayer Scholarship – Brady Dauber, Cuyahoga Community College

$2,000 John Wright Memorial Scholarship – Michael Tilton, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

$3,000 Fran Ward Women in Arboriculture Scholarship – Maria Tranguch, Oregon State University

$5,000 Bonnie Appleton Memorial Scholarship – Rebecca Pobst, Michigan State University

 

About TREE Fund

Tree Research and Education Endowment (TREE) Fund is a 501(c)3 charity dedicated to the discovery and international dissemination of new knowledge in urban forestry and arboriculture (the science of caring for trees in a landscape). TREE Fund awards scholarships and education grants to engage and support the next generation of tree stewards, and multiple research grants to improve the science, safety and practice of arboriculture.

With support from individual donors and Partners, TREE Fund research has contributed to:

  • Improving conditions for tree growth in difficult sites
  • Developing strategies to manage diseases and pests that affect urban trees
  • Improving utility line clearing practices
  • Understanding air pollution reduction and carbon sequestration by trees
  • Determining the costs and benefits of urban trees   

For more information, visit treefund.org.

#   #   #

August 2018 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, the TREE Press.

Davey Tree Establishes Educational Endow...

“All of us at TREE Fund are honored that Davey has chosen to have us serve as stewards and administrators for their new educational endowment fund. Davey has been incredibly influential in the evolution of the modern scientific tree care industry, while also demonstrating the myriad ways that a visionary company can create social and economic good for all the communities they touch with their work. This new long-term commitment to empowering arboriculture education is yet another profound example of Davey’s century-long commitment to making a difference in the world.” 

– J. Eric Smith, President and CEO of TREE Fund 

 

Read the full press release HERE.

 

 

July 2018 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, the TREE Press.

Spring 2018 TREE Fund Grant Awards ̵...

 

Hyland R. Johns Grant

Andrew Hirons, PhD and Henrik Sjöman, PhD, Myerscough College, UK

“Enhancing the performance of urban storm water management schemes with tree selection: developing a new approach to accessing waterlogging tolerance in temperate trees”

The increasing prominence of stormwater management schemes provides excellent opportunities for the integration of trees into new urban developments; however, there is considerable uncertainty over which species will perform best in these schemes. A notable feature of landscapes designed to manage stormwater is that the substrates used are very free draining. This means that the tree species used must be tolerant to periods of both waterlogging and drought (water deficit).

This project aims to develop a new trait that can be used to develop robust recommendations on the tolerance of trees to waterlogging. This will form part of a constellation of traits that can be used to characterise the tolerance of species to a suite of key stressors in urban landscapes.

As sapflow in trees integrates the aerial and underground environments it has significant value in assessing the physiological activity of different species under contrasting environmental conditions. This study will look at the decline in sapfow under waterlogging and use this to quantitatively evaluate a range of species’ waterlogging tolerance. Further data will be collected on the species’ drought tolerance. It is anticipated that this information will transform the confidence of recommendations for stormwater management and provide a model for others in the research community to quantitatively evaluate tolerance to waterlogging. The overall goal of the project is to improve the confidence of tree selection for stormwater management schemes and sites prone to waterlogging.

 

Safe Arborist Techniques Fund Grant

Alexander Laver and James Shippen, PhD, Tree Logic (Working with Coventry University, UK)

“Optimised techniques for arboreal activities”

Recent advances in biomechanical motion analysis equipment has enabled the measurement of three-dimensional human movement within environments previously inaccessible. Previously motion analysis was performed using optical tracking equipment which, whilst accurate, was unsuitable for use outside and excluded its application to tree climbing. However motion capture equipment is now available which uses inertial tracking sensors and can operate in more realistic scenarios such as within the canopy of a tree. With this kit we are going to be able to map the movements of a tree climber as they climb, the data will then give us a body map showing the skeleton and muscle structure of the climber. We plan to record different access and climbing methods to analyse the effect on the climber body. We then plan to look at the task in the tree and work positioning options when undertaking those tasks. Having captured this information we can target a study, working with the climbers of mixed experience to see if climbers adapts their method to compensate for the stress and strains of the method or task. We hope this will guide us to recommend the best climbing methods for climbers to learn and master, to keep them fit and health and in the industry for a full and long career.

 

Utility Arborist Research Fund Grant

John Goodfellow, Bio-Compliance Consulting, Inc.

“The cost-effectiveness of integrated vegetation management”

There are 450,000 miles of transmission line operating at 35-765 kV across North America, with a total land area being managed as electric transmission rights-of-way (ROW) estimated at between 9-11 million acres. There are an additional 306,000 miles of natural gas and liquid petroleum pipeline in North America, representing an estimated 2 million areas of land. The researchers believe that less than half the total land areas in ROW is currently being managed under an IVM regime.

A project team led by John W. Goodfellow, and including SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry professors Chris Nowak Ph.D. and John Wagner Ph.D., recently completed a project that defined the economic business case for Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) on electric transmission ROW. The scope of that project applied least-cost economic analysis methods that focus exclusively on the direct cost to the utility of IVM practices. That approach limited any consideration of the benefits of IVM to simply avoided cost. However, indirect costs and benefits of IVM are important considerations.

The project being proposed will supplement the least-cost project, broadening the assessment to include consideration of the many benefits of IVM, and will result in a more holistic assessment that includes both economic considerations and environmental externalities associated with IVM. This will be accomplished by applying a cost-effectiveness analysis method to empirically combine monetary costs of a management action with outcomes produced from that action that can also be quantified, but that are not easily monetized. The project will also update and broaden the focus of the original least-cost study to include application of IVM methods on pipeline ROW. The goal is to produce a reference that will be useful to practitioners in selecting the least-costly and most beneficial ROW vegetation management techniques from a longer-term perspective of sustainability.

Carolyn Mahan, Ph.D., (Penn State University) and Phillip Charlton, Ph.D., will be collaborating with Mr. Goodfellow and Dr. Nowak for this expanded study.

 

Sponsored Grant

Carolyn G. Mahan, PhD, Penn State Altoona

“Long term effects of electrical right-of-way vegetation management on floral and faunal communities”

This project will continue, replicate, and expand the research and outreach efforts on the effects of right-of-way maintenance on floral and faunal communities at State Game Lands (SGL) 33 in Centre County, Pennsylvania and Green Lane Research and Demonstration Area (GLR&D), in southeastern Pennsylvania. The research team will be collecting data to understand the response of native bees and breeding birds midway through the treatment cycle on both the SGL 33 and GLR&D sites. The research team will also evaluate floral and faunal response to right-of-way management on a third study area in central Pennsylvania. This third area will be one that is 100 feet wide and has been managed using typical integrated vegetation management techniques.  Finally, the project will add an examination of ground beetle diversity (using pitfall traps) to the existing research design at all three research locations. Ground beetles are useful as sensitive environmental indicators and can help evaluate if vegetation management treatments affect soil communities and processes. All research will be conducted in cooperation with the Center for Pollinator Research and the Frost Entomological Museum at Penn State University. 

Note: This project is sponsored by Asplundh Tree Experts, LLC, Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, FirstEnergy Corp; PECO Energy Company (an Exelon Company).

Need funding?

Applications for the Hyland R. Johns and UARF Research Grants, Ohio Chapter ISA Education Grant, and all scholarships are open January 15 through March 15.

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