Skyjack lends a lift for tree preservation

By Euan Youdale29 October 2014

Skyjack SJ63 AJ at the Arboretum, University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada

Skyjack SJ63 AJ at the Arboretum, University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada

The Arboretum, University of Guelph in Ontario is using a Skyjack boom to preserve rare trees including the Cucumber Tree, the first tree in Canada to be listed as endangered.

Skyjack loaned a SJ63 AJ articulating boom to assist 400-acre The Arboretum to collect difficult-to-access seeds from the Rare Woody Plants of Ontario seed orchards.

“Our priorities were to collect seeds from six main tree species that have good seed crops this year,” said Sean Fox, head horticulturist, The Arboretum, University of Guelph.

The Arboretum obtained seeds from Cucumber Trees, Big Shellbark Hickory, Chinquapin Oak, Kentucky Coffee Tree, Tulip Tree and the Sycamore.

In 1984, the Cucumber Tree was the first tree in Canada to be listed as endangered by the Comittee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). There are only about 300 Cucumber Trees left in Canada in the wild.

Mr Fox, who operated the SJ63 AJ, said the lift allowed for greatly increased access to seeds within tree canopies, not only for areas that were too high to access in the past, but even lower portions that have difficult to access angles.

“With the use of the Skyjack lift, we were able to collect more seeds, including seeds on some species that we’ve been unable to access in the past—in about a third of the time,” Fox said.

The SJ63 AJ has a working height of 70 ft (21.2m), a horizontal reach of 40 ft (12.2m), and up and over clearance of 28 ft (8.4m). It was painted pink in honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Skyjack is also donating a portion of proceeds from sales of Skyjack boom sales in October to benefit the Canadian Breat Cancer foundation.

In the past, the Arboretum collected seeds using a combination of ladders and hooks to lower branches. Staff used a 17 ft orchard ladder but it was difficult to place within the canopies.

“Climbing many of the trees was impractical as much of the seed is concentrated on small branches at the edges of the trees’ canopy and many of these upper branches are not large enough to support the weight of a climber and equipment,” Mr Fox said.

Batches of the seeds collected will be sent for preservation to the National Tree Seed Centre, a division of the Canadian Forest Service in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Some of the seeds will be used in the Arboretum’s Tree Nursery to produce seedlings that will be shared with other botanical gardens and research agencies for further archiving. Some of the seeds will also be distributed to selected tree nurseries to produce offspring that will aid in restoration programs in the tree’s native range.

“The seeds we collected from the Arboretum’s Gene Banks will help to reduce seed collection pressures on the wild populations,” Fox said.

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