The forest canopy has often been referred to as the most significant biological frontier known to mankind. The vast majority of Earth’s forest canopy remains entirely unexplored and those that do venture up into the tops of the trees, discover more new species to science than in any other place on the planet. It’s an extremely biodiverse environment and an exciting realm for scientific exploration, not least because it often involves climbing trees!
The challenges of tree climbing are many, but this is something that I’ve come to cherish and love over the years. It’s not an easy thing to get up into the top of a giant tree, and once you’re there, moving laterally through the branches presents its own unique set of challenges; not to mention all the bees, wasps, ants, scorpions, spiders, rotten branches, snakes and spikey plants that you might have to negotiate with while you’re up there.
Tree climbing is an entirely unique discipline, almost incomparable to rock climbing because of the medium you’re in. Unlike anything else, trees are nature’s largest free-standing natural structures, and they are alive. Branches bend and snap, the wind can move the canopy several metres in each direction, the climbing is three dimensional and requires some innovative rope work as well as equipment. But above all, a tree climber needs to be well versed in the body language of trees to be able to understand them and to climb them safely.