A Life in the Canopy by Arborist, Robin Grimes


in Urban Forest

Robin Grimes is an Arborist, commonly known as a Tree Surgeon.  Arborist’s are charged with ensuring the longevity of individual trees, it is a tough job; difficult to qualify to do, expensive equipment and insurance and certainly very under-rated by the wider public. Here Robin gives a succinct insight into his work and industry and the explanation as to why it is ultimately such a rewarding job.


Canopy Crawlers, Rope Jockeys – or to put it more politely, Climbing Arborists

An arborist is a wide term for someone who is a professional in the practice of arboriculture, or the study, management and cultivation of trees.  Within this industry there are many job roles that an arborist can do, one of them being to climb trees, yes that’s right, we get paid to climb trees!  I must admit, I think I have the best job in the world but it’s not all glitz and glamour, its hard work.  Sometimes the trees in our urban and rural landscapes need a little helping hand, it may be that they were originally planted in the wrong place and have gotten too big for their surroundings, they may have some form of dysfunction or decay meaning they need to be managed or removed or they may simply need a little TLC.

Good tree work can increase the longevity of a trees life and this is where we, as climbing arborists come in.

I could waffle on all day about British Standards, Natural Target Pruning, environmental arboriculture, rope techniques, qualifications and much, much more but I’d be here all day.  I really want to get across the feeling of what it’s like to be up in the trees, in the canopy, where not many normal everyday folk go.  That first rush of being up high and dangling by a rope only 11mm thick, the adrenalin of trying to reach the furthest tips of the tree or being exposed on a tall pole when the canopy has been removed.  A head for heights is a sure fire must for this job but even that sometimes isn’t enough!  From the moment I get my ropes out of the bag, plan my route to the top, set up an anchor point in the tree and starting the ascent, to working in the crown, completing the task at hand and descending to the floor, I enjoy every moment.

Being in the canopy, you get a great view, wherever you are. You get a different perspective on the world from above and get a real feel for how important the trees are for our town and city landscapes.

Forever on your toes, thinking about the next cut or the next branch you step on, is it safe? Am I safe? How am I going to get up there!? 2-3 hours in the tree feels like 30 minutes.  It does have its off days though, when its wet and the tree and ropes are slimy and hard to grip, or trees that are just not nice to climb, but more often than not, a rewarding and thoroughly enjoying job and I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.

by Robin Grimes

Visit Robin’s Blog: www.arbography.blogspot.com

For an insight into the world of the Arborist Visit the ArbTalk forum. As well as expert chat there is also a facility for the public to ask questions directly to a practitioner.


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