Aerial Inspections for Asian Longhorn Beetle (ALB)
Paddock Wood, Kent
We were awarded the ALB aerial tree safety contract for DEFRA in 2014. As part of this contract the works in and around Paddock Wood, Kent required us to supply 6 climbing arborists operative crew for 8 weeks in order to climb every host species within a 300 metre radius of the initial outbreak site.
The need for an aerial inspection regime was realised at the end of 2013 when DEFRA surveyors decided that their ground based monitoring had limitations as there was evidence of insect boring in the upper crowns of trees which they could not inspect sufficiently. As we discovered, much of this insect damage was caused by goat moth galleries, however, there was a clear need to inspect every sample in order to rule out further ALB activity.
Having found historic evidence of ALB beyond the initial outbreak site after week 6 of inspections resulted in us concentrating the search within a privately owned woodland. This meant ongoing liaison with the land owner in order to communicate findings and to maintain a good relationship.
Many of the inspection sites were in isolated off-road locations, meaning that we were required to deploy our 4x4 specialist built tipping chip truck in order to transport equipment into the sites, and to remove debris back to the central temporary DEFRA yard for further inspection.
Provisions were made within the contract to supply a tracked MEWP, however this was not required due to the ease of crown accessibility.
A small proportion of the trees to be inspected were adjacent to, and overhanging the highway which meant that we were required to formulate traffic management plans in accordance with Chapter 8. Each new work zone was risk assessed at the start of each day to take consideration of site changes such as terrain, tree species, tree hazards, obstructions and weather.
We are now retained as the DEFRA outbreak team and in addition to continuing the ALB aerial survey in 2016, will be called upon to assist in further outbreaks.