WCISA 2021 CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS: Far out Arboriculture, a virtual discovery of the lost coast

sequoia trees

Photo: Shutterstock, Allie Caulfield

by Gillian Martin

Arborists and tree care workers in the west are riding the moon this week. We hope wildlife advocates will celebrate with us. The Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture just held its annual conference…virtually of course. A banquet of topics spanned four days! Several presentations covered issues that might be of interest to bird and nature advocates.

Our keynote speaker, Obi Kaufman, author of The Forests of California, took a deep dive into the knowns and unknowns about how forest ecosystems function. We heard his points loud and clear. Obi says it’s important that we see biodiversity as a collective force holding the forest in a state of harmony. He urges us to see nature as singular and inseparable and with an ‘intelligence’ we poorly understand. Obi has a unique perspective on this matter… “When a forest loses its biodiversity-it loses its mind.” He adds that to take a utilitarian view of nature is useless at best, and fundamentally violent at worse.


Barbara Claucas from Humboldt State University and The Marmot Society took us on a time-travel through the great redwoods. We learned about their unique characteristics and the wildlife that are associated with them - even in high places where they brush the clouds. The ecologically significant Humboldt Flying Squirrel has been a focal study. Two recent discoveries! Did you know they glow in the dark!? And ultrasonic whistles and trills are a form of communication? How will our changing climate impact redwoods and the wildlife associated with them? These questions are under study. Sobering concerns are on the minds of people who understand their needs and their vulnerabilities. To learn more, check out The Marmot Society!


As if we were there…Scott Baker of Tree Solutions, Inc. and Jim Campbell-Spickler of the City of Eureka took us on a virtual tour of how the Sequoia Park Zoo Skywalk was designed and constructed. A staggering feat of engineering while conservation remained a priority. Now open to the public! You must, must go! And take the kids!!


And only crazy tree people could create a panel who argued who had the worst tree pests in their state! California, NV, AZ and HI competed! Guess who won the vote? CA! Thanks to the Polyphagous Shot-hole Borer. The other states have pest that are gravely impactful as well! Climate change is impacting trees and exacerbating opportunities for infestations. Across the planet, trees have the power to benefit the planet and humanity in so many ways! Check out the Trees Are Good public education products offered by ISA!

We end with a dollop of cream! Ryan Gilpin and Gillian Martin received awards for their work for Tree Care for Birds and other Wildlife!

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