Tue, May 02, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Arborist rids 13m camphor of pests

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Arborist Lei Shih-sheng inspects a tree in Taipei on Saturday.

Photo: CNA

Lei Shih-sheng (雷時生), one of only five arborists in Taiwan, on Saturday climbed a 40 year-old camphor tree in the Tainan City Government’s central plaza to rid the tree of a scale insect (Aulacaspis yabunikkei) infestation.

Before the climb, Lei lowered his head and held his palms together to pray, saying it was his habit before starting a job, in honor of the work and nature.

After checking his equipment, Lei ascended the 13m-tall tree and started pruning it.

“If you never climb to the top, the beauty seen from the treetops will never be yours,” he said.

Lei, who is more than 60 years old, worked as a mechanical engineer before becoming an arborist.

He said he had been the managing director of the Taipei Guest House and that was when he first developed an interest in trees.

When an oak tree on the property fell it was diagnosed with a disease that had caused it to rot, Lei said, adding that he begun to devote his spare time to researching trees and their diseases.

He traveled to Hong Kong to train to be an arborist and has an Industrial Rope Access Trade Association certification, and has continued to develop his climbing skills since he obtained the certificate.

An arborist must have knowledge of trees and pests, and be skilled at using a chain saw and other equipment while dangling in the air, he said.

How much force to use and which angle to cut branches and trees at are different from operations conducted on the ground, Lei said, adding that only practice can help people gain such skills and minimize risks.

It is a difficult job, and bug bites, hot temperatures and rain would deter people who are not interested in the work, Lei said.

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