45-feet up a towering Eucalyptus, hanging from a rope connected to a harness, Ben starts his chainsaw and begins to cut. The chainsaw wails out over the neighbourhood, followed by the cracking sound as the branch begins to give way.
It’s just 8:00 am and Ben McInerney, a certified tree surgeon or ‘arborist’ as they are known, begins his day removing a massive Eucalyptus globulus or Blue gum for us laymen from a residential yard in Bondi Beach in Sydney’s East. The tree has been deemed dangerous by Council due to structural defects.
Ben has been an arborist in Sydney for the best part of a decade and says he can’t get enough of it.
Asked if every day starts out like this he said; “Yes, a lot of the time. 90% of the work we do is tree removal or pruning and the first thing you have to do is climb to the top of the tree and set your ‘high point’ with a safety rope.
Suburban tree lopping is one of the most dangerous jobs in Australia as reported by news.com.au. Fatalities average around 25 per year which is more than mining and construction combined.
Even given the risk, Ben reckons it’s not enough to keep him away. “If you are doing everything correctly and you don’t take shortcuts you shouldn’t have a problem. Most accidents are caused by people rushing to finish the job sooner and not following Australian standards.”
Ben also states that one of the biggest issues is the arbor industry is not regulated in Australia like other countries. Anyone can buy a chainsaw and call himself a tree lopper, and they do he says. These fly by night companies put themselves and everybody else at risk just trying to make a quick buck.
As the morning wears on and with the help of a highly trained ground crew the tree was safely on the ground by 11:30am which was high time for a smoko break.
After raising my concerns about removing so many trees each year from the city, Ben assured me that the trees he removes have reach the end of their Safe Useful Life Expectancy SULE and therefor their amenity value. Once a tree becomes more of a hazard to persons or property than a benefit, it needs to go.
Council strict rules on tree removals and planting programs ensure that all trees removed are replaced with 2 more, to ensure a green and sustainable urban forest.
Ben splits his time between removing trees and his other project Go Tree Quotes which is dedicated raising awareness about using qualified and insured arborists. He does this along with connecting home owners with qualified local professionals.