What does competitive tree climbing have to do with sustainability?

Did you know that there are competitions for tree climbers? The International Society of Arboriculture has chapters all over the world. Those chapters hold tree climbing competitions where arborists compete to be the top climber in their chapter, and chapter competitors compete for the international crown.
Today I attended the Mid-Atlantic Chapter, International Society of Arboriculture 2014 tree climbing competition at the US National Arboretum in Washington, DC. It was amazing to watch – these men and women have a special relationship with their gear and with trees. It was great to see SavATree‘s own Wilbur Martinez in action competing (photos below). He really knows his way around a tree!

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What does this have to do with sustainability? Trees need to be managed to limit risks to people and property and to maximize the ecosystem services they provide. Some things you need to see and do to manage a tree can’t be done from the ground. These men and women and their unique skill set help people + trees in cities coexist safely and productively, and events like tree climbing competitions help them perfect and get recognized for their skills.