With news headlines about female inequality and glass ceilings still all too common in the media, the Women in Arboriculture group is committed to challenging misconceptions and proving that careers in arboriculture are truly for everyone.
With our ‘12 Faces of Arb’ feature, we’ll be taking a look at 12 inspirational women who’ve chosen to make their living in this sometimes tough but always exciting industry.
In this month’s edition of 12 Faces of Arb, we catch up with Mandy Hollis, Business Relationship Manager at Lantra.
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12 Faces of Arb
Business Relationship Manager
Business Relationship Manager, Lantra
Just in time for the coldest week of the year so far, at the end of January, Mandy decided to pack up her desk and pick up her chainsaw to complete her Lantra Awards 5-Day Chainsaw Maintenance, Cross Cutting, Felling and Processing trees up to 200mm course.
Despite the sub-zero temperatures Mandy quickly got involved, along with her colleague and partner in crime Sean Duffy.
Read all about her week out in the field;
“Our first day kicked off in the classroom at 8:30am. It’s important you learn and know all about the tools that are used in the industry before actually using them yourself. We learnt how to strip and rebuild a chainsaw and sharpen the saw. We were also taught the ten safety features of a chainsaw, along with health and safety, and emergency procedures. The classroom day was the coldest day out of the lot because you aren’t as active as when you’re out in the woods. Part of you just wants to get out there and get going, but at the same time you really appreciate just how powerful the tools you are using are, and the risks associated with them. By 3:30pm we had finished our day 1 and were ready to get cutting in day two.”
“We started day 2 in Cheadle Woods, in Stoke-on-Trent which was only half an hour from our Training Provider. It was a bitterly cold start to the day with temperatures struggling to rise over -2 degrees. Our Instructor, Steve Hulme taught us about the dangers of the woods, and what was expected of us. We observed some demonstrations of felling and how-to warm start and cold start a chainsaw, before discussing two felling techniques. It was then time to get stuck in ourselves. We learned and practiced snedding, clearing the brash, how to cross cut a tree, and how to stack logs. A thoroughly enjoyable day despite the freezing cold weather, where we were taught lots of new things in the world of arboriculture! Hats off to anyone who has to tackle such a challenging job in such testing conditions.”
“Day 3 kicked off in the classroom, where we reviewed everything we had learned in the past couple of days. We spent a bit of time reminding ourselves of the safety of the chainsaw, felling techniques as well as tension and compression. Once we were ready to go, we sharpened our chainsaws and headed back into the woods. We learned two more felling techniques and practiced, practiced, practiced! It’s hard work and really takes it out of you, but at the same time very rewarding. We always made sure we left the woods in a suitable state for any others that may visit. There is so much to think about, it is certainly both mentally and physically demanding.”
“Day 4, and we get started off in the classroom. A quick equipment-check and we were back off to the forest for more fun! After three days of the course I really felt I knew what I was doing, and my confidence had grown a lot. We practiced all that we had learned and gained new knowledge on how to inspect a tree and know the best surgery for it, whether it needed a spear cut, a fell, or a forward fell. It was a day of work and practice.”
“Before I knew it, it was the last day of our course. It started with a quick questions and answer session, which was the perfect opportunity to show off what I had learned as well as ask any questions. I asked some final questions around the maintenance of the chainsaw, and then off we went back into Cheadle Woods to practice anything else we felt less confident doing. For me that was snedding, so the last day was a great chance for me to master that skill. It was minus degrees and hammering it down with snow, but inside the forest it felt like we were in some kind of tropical-winter climate.”
“The smell of the trees and the fir was phenomenal, it was amazing to work in such a beautiful environment. By the end of the week, I didn’t even know my own name! My elbows hurt, I found muscles I was never even aware I had, and I loved every minute of the whole experience.”
“When asked by the Instructor how many trees I thought I could fell in a day I thought at a push I could sink at least six over an eight-hour shift. My respect went through the roof when I found out that Forestry contractors get through 80 trees in an eight-hour shift! Respect all the way!”
“I would like to personally thank our Provider Partners Countryside Training and Tree Management for accommodating us, Steve Hulme for instructing the course so brilliantly, Brampton Valley Training for providing our helmets, STIHL for all of our equipment and Haix for the comfy chainsaw boots!”
“All that was left to do was my assessment and I passed!
Thank you to everyone involved!
Read about Emma Shaffert