News | 9 June 2022
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Arborists are out of their trees this Arbor Day

It’s world Arbor Day, and to celebrate, we’re talking to one of our special branch arborists to find out if they are barking, out of their trees, or whether we should all take a leaf out of their book!

Council arborist team cutting up fallen trees

Wellington City Council manages around 3,500 hectares of open space and a lot of trees, so our arborist team is always busy whether it be maintaining them, planting them, or pruning the city's 15,000 street trees.

For Council arborist Justin Garbutt, the main skills you need are to be organised, disciplined, have a big voice to be heard over the noisy site – and unsurprisingly, a good head for heights.

“I have been an arborist for 26 years, before this I was a chef but felt claustrophobic in the small kitchens and always wanted to be outside – now I’m outside nearly all the time.

“Tree work has come a long way since I began in 1996, it’s a lot more technical and you use more equipment. But the highlight for me is always about the climbing – the bigger the tree the better. 

Justin gets frustrated by misinformation around trees, especially when the public claim they’re dangerous.

“On the one hand people will say this tree is dangerous and it should be removed when it is perfectly healthy and causing no problems, then they’ll jump in their car and engage in a far more dangerous activity just by driving.

“Trees are essentially the lungs of the earth, without them nature cannot survive. We are now in the grips of a climate catastrophe, partly because too many trees have been removed from around the globe. The importance of significant trees has never been greater for carbon sequestration, a canopy corridor for birds, managing storm water, and the list goes on.”

Council arborist Justin Garbutt in action up a tree.
Council arborist Justin Garbutt.

Wellington City Council is a proud member of the Tree Cities of the World project, recognising the value of trees by providing a number of services, projects and funding to ensure the greening of the city.

These include a planting programme with another 45,000 being planted this season, protecting notable trees by listing them as heritage trees, providing free native plants for volunteers and community groups to plant on public land, co-support for a fruit tree guardian programme, and providing land for commemorative trees to be planted.

The Green Network Plan and implementation framework is another way Council is supporting our native environment while addressing climate change.

Happy Arbor Day, and may the trees be ever in your favour.