An invite to TRoQ - 22nd Jun 2012

Thoughtplanters Academic Manager, Mark Roberts was invited to Wellington to take part in the first stage of the Horticulture ‘targeted review of qualifications’ (TRoQ).

NZQA have been given mandate to review and reduce the number of qualifications offered in NZ. The objective is to reduce the number of qualifications to make the New Zealand qualification system simpler for employers, learners and training providers.

The plan is to remove all of the existing qualifications on the NZ Qualifications Framework (NZQF) and replace them with a greatly reduced number of ‘New Zealand Qualifications’. The new qualifications’ will be strategic in nature and outcome focused – a subtle but important difference to the current system.

To ensure all viewpoints are considered consultation will take place with all stakeholders including industry (employers and industry associations), training providers, Industry Training Organisations (ITOs), Iwi’s and community groups.

It’s the biggest shake up of the education sector since the creation of NZQA – ‘its great to be given the opportunity to be involved at such an early stage, its also going to be a shed load of work and the timeline is tight’

A thousand trees for Arbor Day - 30th May 2012

Hoiho - a Yellow-eyed Penguin
Thoughtplanters will be supporting the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust in its goal to plant 1000 trees this Arbor Day

The Trust is committed to creating natural environments where threatened yellow-eyed penguins can thrive. For Arbor Day 2012 (June 5), the Trust plans to plant 1000 trees at the Okia Reserve, on the Otago Peninsula. Click here to find out more information about this event.

While the Arbor Day activities are Dunedin based, the Trust manages land and penguin interests across the entire South Island of New Zealand. The Yellow-eyed Penguin is found only along the South Islands’ eastern coastline, as far north as Banks Peninsula and as far south as Stewart Island and beyond to Campbell Island.

The Trust carries out conservation work restoring coastal forests and controlling predators. While predominantly for penguins the revegetation programmes also provide habitat of other fauna and flora of the region. The Trust is a highly respected conservation organisation working with the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Conservation.

The Trust locally sources the trees and shrubs that grows on in its nursery – it is these trees that will be used in the 1000 tree Arbor Day revegetation programme.

The Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust; Penguins – People – Plants – Passion

Sudden interest in Single Line Work Positioning - 19th May 2012

source: Richard Tregoweth - Treetools blog May 19

Why the interest - in a word, SAFETY!

NZ Arbor BPG Committee member Mark Roberts got it right when he said "we need to get a few key safety points into existence before someone kills themselves"

The BPG Committee is well aware that SRT Ascent systems are becoming more and more commonplace in NZ tree work.

The committee is probably also aware that real-world application of these ascent systems suggest they are not as safe as first imagined. The problem is compounded when the systems are mis-configured or mis-used - which is very easily done.

In theory at least, SRT Accent systems do present a compelling safety argument - possibly the reason why this method is endorsed by the ITCC and why most of the major arb companies in New Zealand use a single line for ascent into big trees.

Efficiency, lower-ability of the climber in the case of an emergency and the setting of an additional lowerable, access line in the tree all sound very safe indeed.

The problem is, work-place reality is slightly different.

Climbers regularly Work Position on SRT Ascent equipment and the toothed-cam ascenders commonly used in SRT Ascent are not designed for that application (as cavers well know).

Moving laterally on the single line (using toothed-cam ascenders), stepping up onto a branch, or introducing even small amounts of slack into the SRT Ascent system can be fatal - see previous blog post on the subject here.

It's safety concerns like these that are driving many arb companies and individual aerial arborists to adopt the use of Single Line Work Positioning (contrary to what some industry pundits have to say).

Single Line Work Positioning equipment allows for efficient ascent as well as lateral movement in the tree, not unlike DbRT - in short, the best of both worlds in terms of safety. A separate access line can still be installed if that was deemed necessary.

SRT to be included in 2013 Best Practice Guideline for Arboriculture - 16th May 2012

Richard Tregoweth – Treetools blog May 15, 2012

SRT to be included in 2013 Best Practice Guideline for Arboriculture

All tree climbers utilize a single line for climbing and yet the acronym SRT (Single Rope Technique) sends most aerial arborists into a tailspin.

The confusion lies in the SRT term itself, which is too narrow for tree work application (in Treetools opinion).

Historically Single Rope Technique was used by recreational cavers for ascending a single line out of a 'tomo'.

Consequently the term SRT, in tree work, is now commonly associated with access into the tree, ascending a single line.

SRT tree access uses a variation of the traditional 'frog' climbing systems originally found in caving, which usually incorporate toothed-cam ascenders on a single rope.

Unfortunately, the acronym SRT is also used to describe single rope work positioning where the climber ascends, descends and generally moves about the tree canopy on a single line. eg when using the Rope Wrench or Unicender.

It's hard to know exactly when SRT ascending becomes SRT work positioning but you can guarantee one thing; the confusion will really set in when these two, different, meanings of the term are merged together to create one generic form of SRT.

Treetools has blogged about this subject before but all you need do is read a few arb forums on Facebook and you'll understand exactly what we are talking about.

Thankfully NZ Arbor have recognized these complications and set about to change things.

The latest edition of the NZ Arbor BPG will offer a series of recommendations relative to the various aspects of SRT; General SRT, Access SRT and Work Positioning SRT. The BPG will be available free on the NZ Arbor website

This is a major step forward for SRT in NZ arb.

The proposed recommendations are designed to create a minimum set of safety procedures ensured not to limit the use and future application of a single rope technique in tree work; general, access or work positioning.

This is the first foray into SRT by NZ Arbor but the BPG committee expect to expand on the subject over the coming year.

A number of key SRT practitioners, in both ascent and work positioning, have already been involved in the consultation process so things are already heading in the right direction.

Social Media at Arboriculture Australia conference - 24th Apr 2012

Social Media at Arboriculture Australia conference

Social Media - a powerful business tool

This years Arboriculture Australia Annual conference (Hobart 30th April – May 2) will offer more than the usual networking opportunities. The Social Media platforms of Twitter and Linkedin will be setup to allow users to find people, see who is commenting and debating conference issues and even follow more that one session at a time.

Enhancing the conference experience using social media is not exactly new but this is believed to be a first for an Arboricultural conference.

There will be a conference ‘group’ called 2012 Arboriculture Australia Conference set up on LinkedIn and Twitter will be using the hash-tag #2012arb

Not only will you be able to follow the content of the conference there will also be a Flickr-photo account set up so you can see what is going on as well.

Often social media is full of warnings about what you can and cannot say and do, but used correctly it has the potential to be a powerful business tool.

Lunch with the Prime Minster - 30th Mar 2012

Richard Wanhill, thoughtplanters Business Development Manager has been invited to have lunch with the Prime Minster of New Zealand, the Right Honorable, Mr John Key.

Mr Key will be leading a delegation of high-profile business leaders to Indonesia and Singapore to discuss relationships and opportunities where New Zealand can offer its strengths and expertise, “like the food and beverage sector, education, aviation and geothermal energy.”

Richard will be meeting Mr Key in Singapore.

“New Zealand’s relationship with Singapore is a deep and enduring one, and this visit underscores those close ties,” says Mr Key. “This visit provides an ideal opportunity to reaffirm New Zealand’s close and valued friendship with Singapore as we continue our cooperation in a number of key areas, particularly trade.

“I will also be expressing my gratitude to leaders of both countries, on behalf of New Zealand, for the support and assistance following last February’s Canterbury earthquake.”

The largest education event in the Asia Pacific Region - 1st Mar 2012

The Arboriculture Australia’s 2012 annual conference promises to be the largest education event dedicated to both the Urban Forest and Utilities in the Asia Pacific Region.

This year’s event will be held in Hobart, starting with the Australia Tree Climbing Championship preliminary events on Friday 27th April and the masters on the 28th April.

On Sunday 29th April, Arboriculture Australia will be presenting the 2 hour workshops (which are always booked out, so book early to secure a place).

Monday 30th April will see the first full day session of the conference, both the Urban Foresters and Utility Arborists.

Our own Trevor Gardiner will be there presenting on training programmes for Utility Arborists and Vegetation Control Workers. Trevor’s will be discussing how to effectively use workplace training to improve productivity and safety. The talk will be based around New Zealand Electricity Supply Industry training packages and qualifications.

For more information about the 2012 Arboriculture Australia annual conference click here.

New Zealand tree doctors take root in Southeast Asia - 10th Feb 2012

New Zealand tree doctors take root in Southeast Asia
From New January 16, 2012

Few nations can boast of effective use of green space and national parks in its city centre, but Singapore is one of them. And when it comes to maximising limited space into world class outdoor parks, Singapore's Centre for Urban Greenery (CUGE) are the experts.

CUGE, jointly established by the National Parks Board and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, are now using New Zealand company, Thoughtplanters to develop staff skills and qualifications in areas such as the cultivation and management of trees, otherwise known as arboriculture.

"Thoughtplanters' trainers are specialists in their particular subject field, and we had a shortage of such specialists for training in Singapore," says P Teva Raj, director of CUGE.

The company has been instrumental in building educational frameworks for staff across the park and helping educate industry professionals, such as during a productivity study visit to New Zealand last year by industry stakeholders.

They are professional and have a great track record," he says.

"They were willing to come in and help us get our programmes going and were committed to our concept of transferring knowledge and expertise to Singaporeans. They helped to build up a pool of local trainers."

The company's modus operandi of providing highly skilled in-house training is relatively new in Southeast Asia, despite its prevalence in other parts of the world through polytechnic courses and apprenticeships. This is due to the relatively low cost of hiring unskilled, transient workers in Asia.

However Thoughtplanters director, Richard Wanhill, said this culture is changing in conjunction with the realisation that quality can also be a cost-saver due to higher productivity.

"Our challenge is to show the decision-makers that there is another way," he says.

Through horticultural and arboriculture skills training and refresher courses, as well as management and leadership training by experienced staff, the company gives long-term benefits to local workers and their employers.

"There are plenty of people with a high level of theoretical knowledge but less with hands-on experience. We train people using people who work in the industry," says Mr Wanhill.

The Thoughtplanters directors have done the hard yards in the field - between the five of them, they have around 100 years experience. While experience and training makes all the difference in quality for the trees, it is also a cost effective.

"With pruning, a tree might be visited twice a year. If was done properly by trained staff, it might only need to be done once every two years. It's spending money to save money," says Mr Wanhill.

One of the challenges is convincing local companies that have access to cheap labour that it is worth the investment, says Mr Wanhill.

"A trained worker can be seven times more productive and the end result is better quality; and an educated staff member is also more likely to stay. That worker is then going to take more care and understand the needs of the tree better.

"As workers' safety becomes increasingly important, there is also the need for proper training of staff. Asia has a much higher rate of incidents than in New Zealand because many staff are not as widely trained on how to work safely in trees."

The company plans to continue to grow through Asia, building networks and delivering a quality service.

"The big push is with hotels. They realise the importance of a long term need to have quality grounds, with healthy trees, and trained staff to care for them."

Working through Singapore parks has also been an important step for the company.

"Singapore has a massive amount of influence in the region. Developing nations look to success stories in the region and Singapore is one of them."

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