Andy Barrell, founder of Tree3 Ltd, began his career as a professional arborist in 1984 when he started working for his brother as a full-time climbing arborist. His first project was working on the largest tree pruning contract that had ever been issued up to that date in the UK. This involved an intensive pruning regime on an avenue of Holm oak trees that had been planted in Worthing by the Queen Mother’s family approximately 150 years previously. This provided a sound introduction to the rigours of commercial climbing and set a good benchmark upon which to establish an enduring and fulfilling career in professional tree care which is still alive and kicking today.
He spent the next three years working around the south of England and went to Merrist Wood College, Guildford in 1987 to begin studying for a National Diploma in Arboriculture. Part of this three year course involved a middle-year work placement which he spent working for a tree contractor in San Jose, California. It was during this work placement that he developed a taste for, amongst other things, competition tree climbing which culminated in a top 3 placing in the Western States finals in Orange County, Los Angeles in 1988.
He finished his Diploma in 1990 and carried on working in the arboriculture industry in the UK, France and Germany, along with keeping up with the competition climbing circuit. It was this involvement with the climbing competitions that led to him being asked by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) to oversee the integration of the European and American climbing competition styles at the first European ISA conference in Lahnstein, Germany in 1993. He was perfectly suited to this task, being the only person around who had actively and successfully competed in both American and European climbing competitions. Both competition formats were significantly different in many respects and this amalgamation of the two distinct disciplines formed the basis of the current competition format that we now see around the globe.
In addition to this competition climbing he also got involved in developing pole climbing as a competitive sport in the UK. He started competing in 1990, wining more or less everything on offer including a final victory at the Australian pole climbing competition in Melbourne in 1998. He no longer competes but has occasionally been involved in assisting and advising with running subsequent pole climbing competitions here in New Zealand.
In addition to the arboriculture career Andy went back to school in 1994 to study for a BSc(Hons) in Environmental Protection in order to diversify his skill set. Part of this course required him to produce a dissertation which sparked an interest in the then vague field of tree climbing in relation to canopy research. This interest developed into an ongoing work in progress which resulted in him producing the first ever basic canopy access training course which was based on industry standards and a professional work ethic. This program (BCAT) was first delivered in 2004 in the UK and the rationale behind it was used to secure funding for a three year basic canopy access training program for canopy researchers in Borneo as well as ongoing training for many would-be canopy researchers over the following years.
Since moving to New Zealand in 2004 he has managed to establish a similar training program with volunteers at a conservation project in the Waitakere Ranges in West Auckland which produced good results. More recent projects have included training staff members at Auckland zoo and providing an interactive climbing demonstration at an epiphyte workshop in New Plymouth. The commitments of running a consultancy business have however resulted in a significant reduction in active participation in climbing projects but he still retains an ongoing interest in the subject.
His career in New Zealand had been predominantly arboricultural consultancy work both in the local authority arena and the private sector. Two years spent working for North Shore City Council as an Environmental Services arborist provided a sound understanding of the planning process and the requirements of arboricultural consultancy from the other side of the fence. He left the council position in 2007 to work in the private sector and as of September 2011 he has been working for himself and consolidating his position in the arboricultural industry in New Zealand.