Guest article by Boel Hammarstrand | Pictures by Megan James
Every year the Women’s ArbCamp brings together women from arboriculture from all over the world. The 4th WAC – Women’s ArbCamp – took place in Ruissalo, Turku, Finland from the 23rd to the 25th of August 2019. 50 women from three continents were represented: Asia, North America and Europe. We are grateful to have so many sponsors, including Freeworker, helping to keep the event free and all-inclusive to the participants. All the donations from the sponsors this year helped cover the cost of accommodation on the campsite, food, drink and sauna as well as the guide for the Botanical garden tour, amongst other expenses.
Women’s ArbCamp is an event intended for anyone within the arboricultural profession or for those thinking about getting into the profession but not knowing if arboriculture or climbing trees are for them. The organizers try to make sure there is a wide range of equipment on site to give participants the opportunity to try out other manufacturers or equipment that they might not have been able to try in the field otherwise. Different workshops each year and a mix between practical and theoretical subjects offering a broad spectrum of knowledge and skills.
More participants, more topics
The sponsors have helped grow the event from 18 people and 1.5 days in 2016 to 50 people and 2.5 days in 2019. WAC 2019 included practical and theoretical workshops covering LOLER and gear inspection, chainsaw maintenance, highline science, site safety based on the Arbrisk app, I-Tree software, a botanical garden tour, potential forces when climbing, MRS/DRT and SRT systems and general climbing activities.
Again, this year we had our traditional, fun night time climbing, disco tree and BBQ. The event also featured a few different workshops and took part in the local tradition with a Finish sauna. We appreciate everyone donating their time to help host workshops and setting up and breaking down the trees on site providing a fun, friendly and educational event.
Interesting workshops from practicing to better practice
As usual, some of the workshops at the Women’s ArbCamp were run by the participants. We encourage anyone to hold a workshop in their chosen subject. This can be a great foretaste if you are thinking about getting into teaching or instructing any arb-related subjects. But it can also help with nerves or uncertainties when having to take the lead at a work site or other times when you have to talk to a group of people.
This year Ann Elisabeth Jacobsen was hosting a detailed chainsaw maintenance workshop including correct and effective sharpening and bar maintenance as well as more in depth daily and weekly maintenance. Ann Elisabeth was showing and explaining some features on both Husqvarna and Stihl chainsaws. By having access to and explaining some differences between brands helps makes the workshop more relevant for the participants.
Inspection saves your live
Katie Curwen was doing a talk and practical workshop on how to inspect and look after your climbing equipment at the Women’s ArbCamp. When inspecting your PPE and life support equipment it’s important to make sure you know what the equipment should look and function like. The carabiners should fully close and lock on their own and there should be no fraying or cuts in your ropes. If you are unsure about how a piece of equipment should behave, remove it temporarily from service and look into it to make sure you are not putting yourself at a bigger risk when working.
Talk to the manufacturer, dealer or your work peers to find out what’s right instead of thinking “it will hold” or “this time it will be ok”. When it comes to PPE and life support items always think “better safe than sorry”. Make sure you follow the rules and regulations in your country and get your climbing kit inspected at a regular basis as well as always inspecting it before use.
Evea-Maria Thukanen was telling us about a Finnish research project using the I-Tree software for mapping trees in some of Finland’s bigger city’s including Turku, Pori, Helsinki and Tampere. The Finish project is modelling ecosystems in urban trees, including air cleaning, storm water attenuation and carbon binding and also take into account the economic value of the trees and the services they provide.
Women’s ArbCamp worldwide
As the event keeps growing and getting more and more participants from all over the globe, we are looking into opportunities of running events outside of Europe. One way is the WACT – Women’s ArbCamp Taiwan. We are hoping to host an event alongside Sylvia Ren-han Hsu from WACT in Taiwan in the near future. We have also been talking with Melissa LeVangie Ingersoll from WTCW – Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop – about having a collaborating event in North America in the next few years.
The plans are already on the way for next year’s events and as the 2020 event will mark the 5th year anniversary of WAC. We are hoping to bring together more women in arboriculture than ever before. The 2020 event will take place in late summer somewhere in Europe. As soon as we have a site and date confirmed we will share the info through our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram) and on our website.