Boel Hammarstrand reports from the fourth Women's ArbCamp, which brought 50 female arborists and climbers from all over the world to Finland for two and half days of practical and theoretical workshops on a variety of topics.

The fourth annual Women’s ArbCamp (WAC) took place in Ruissalo, Turku, Finland, on 23–25 August. Organised with STEIN through the Finnish tree care association, SPY (Suomen Puunhoidon Yhdistys), WAC 2019 brought together 50 women from all around the world. Three continents were represented: Asia, North America and Europe, and a total of 12 countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Taiwan, England, USA and Switzerland.

Forestry Journal:

The event would not have been possible without our main sponsor Stein and their generosity supporting WAC and also providing all the participants with cool custom goody bags and t-shirts. The goody bags were filled with awesome items from all our generous sponsors and included a WACed Stein throw weight, a WACed ISC karabiner, a WACed Grönyte-Konsult buff, a WACed Polysafe loop-sling, a WACed Götz wooden keyring, a WACed Gustharts/Rock Exotica RockX mini-biner and wristband, pen, pad and key lanyard, as well as a lot of other exciting stuff.

We are grateful to have so many sponsors helping to keep the event free and all-inclusive to the participants. Our returning sponsors this year were Stein, Gustharts, Svenska Trädföreningen, Sip protection, ISC Wales and Grönyte-Konsult. This year’s event was also supported by Freeworker and Teufelberger, amongst other companies based throughout Europe. All the donations from the sponsors this year helped cover the cost of accommodation on the campsite, food, drink and sauna, as well as the guide for the botanical garden tour, amongst other expenses.

Forestry Journal:

The sponsors have helped grow the event from 18 people and 1.5 days in 2016 to 50 people and 2.5 days in 2019. WAC 2019 included practical and theoretical workshops covering LOLER and gear inspection, chainsaw maintenance, highline science, site safety based on the Arbrisk app, i-Tree software, a botanical garden tour, potential forces when climbing, MRS/DRT and SRT systems and general climbing activities. Again, this year we had our traditional, fun night-time climbing, disco tree and BBQ. The event also featured a few different raffles, including a battery top-handled saw donated by Gustharts/Stihl UK, and took part in the local tradition with a Finnish sauna. We appreciate everyone donating their time to help host workshops and setting up and breaking down the trees on site, providing a fun, friendly and educational event. As usual, some of the workshops were run by the participants. We encourage anyone that wants to hold a workshop in their chosen subject. This can be a great taster if you are thinking about getting into teaching or instructing any arb-related subjects, but it can also help with nerves or uncertainties when having to take the lead at a work site or other times when you have to talk to a group of people.

This year, Ann Elisabeth was hosting a detailed chainsaw maintenance workshop including correct and effective sharpening and bar maintenance, as well as more in-depth daily and weekly maintenance. Ann Elisabeth was showing and explaining some features both on Husqvarna chainsaws as well as Stihl. Having access to and explaining some differences between brands helps makes the workshop more relevant for the participants.

Forestry Journal:

Katie was doing a talk and practical workshop on how to inspect and look after your climbing equipment. When inspecting your life-support equipment it’s important to make sure you know what the equipment should look and function like. The karabiners should fully close and lock on their own and there should be no fraying or cuts in your ropes. If you are unsure about how a piece of equipment should behave, remove it temporarily from service and look into it to make sure you are not putting yourself at a bigger risk when working. Talk to the manufacturer or your work peers to find out what’s right.

When it comes to PPE and life-support items always think ‘better safe than sorry’. Make sure you follow the rules and regulations in your country and get your climbing kit inspected on a regular basis, as well as always inspecting it before use.

Forestry Journal:

Eeva-Maria was telling us about a Finnish research project using the i-Tree software for mapping trees in some of Finland’s bigger cities including Turku, Pori, Helsinki and Tampere. The Finnish project is modelling ecosystems in urban trees, including air cleaning, storm water attenuation and carbon binding, and also takes into account the economic value of the trees and the services they provide.

WAC is an event intended for anyone within the arboricultural profession or for someone thinking about getting into the profession but not knowing if arboriculture or climbing trees is for them. We try to make sure there is a wide range of equipment on site to give participants the opportunity to try out different manufacturers or equipment that they might not have been able to try in the field otherwise. We try to have different workshops each year and have a mix of practical and theoretical subjects, offering a broader spectrum of knowledge and skills. Our aim is to have workshops with subjects and at a level to interest most different career choices or options within the profession and not just aimed at the climbing arborist, although the climbing side is a big, but optional, part of the event.

Forestry Journal:

With each year of planning and arranging WAC, we as organisers learn and develop and do our utmost to develop, grow and make the event bigger, better, more fun and structured in a way that will help match the number of participants and the number of workshops with the gear and facilitators available on site. However, the goal is always to create a friendly networking opportunity sprinkled with climbing activities for the ones that want to, or just a good catch up for the ones that don’t want to climb. By having a mix of practical and theoretical workshops and trying to find workshop holders in a range of subjects, from soil sciences, planting, pruning, site safety, tree inspection and climbing, we hope that there will always be something that YOU feel you want to learn more about or that will tickle your interests, regardless if you are a climbing arborist or not.

As the event keeps growing and getting more and more participants from all over the globe, we are looking into opportunities for running events outside of Europe. The WACT (Women’s ArbCamp Taiwan) logo is being broadcast around the world by Sylvia, and we are hoping to host an event alongside her in Taiwan in the near future. We have also been talking with Melissa from WTCW (Women’s Tree Climbing Workshop), about having a collaborative event in North America in the next few years.

Forestry Journal:

The plans are already underway for next year’s events and as the 2020 event will mark the five-year anniversary of WAC, we are hoping to bring together more women in arboriculture than ever before. The 2020 event will take place in late summer, somewhere in Europe. As soon as we have a site and date confirmed we will share the info through our social media channels and on our website

If you want to get involved as a sponsor, workshop leader or participant don’t hesitate to contact us on social media @womensarbcamp or send us an email on