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World’s Tallest Tree

Appreciating Old, Tall Trees Maureen Sexsmith-West ISA Certified Arborist, PR4600A Maxing out at only 5 feet 1 inch, tall trees appear a little taller to me compared to many of my fellow arborists. In our industry, a respect for heights is a given and a huge investment of time and money goes into training for this specialized task. In Lethbridge, probably our tallest tree (and one of the oldest at 106+ years) is Fairfield, located at the Research Centre. When the limited reach of forestry trucks of 55-60 feet come into play, it is important to find a skilled certified climber who understands how to care for tall or veteran trees and has all the necessary skills to prune the giants. While I prefer to keep myself a little closer to the ground, my partner, Grant, is an expert climber who has worked in trees in both Canada and the US that were in the 200 foot range.

Grant – Pruning Fairfield Poplar, 2006

One has to admire the gene pool (and good luck) these giants have and that somehow they have avoided the logger’s chainsaw for lumber or heavy equipment during urban expansion. It is sad when trees are removed or topped out of fear because they are considered “too tall”. In urban settings, the biggest conflict comes when trees are planted that don’t match the growing environment or potential space for their species. Making good selections when landscaping and offering routine maintenance by all the numerous ‘owners’ helps guarantee they will reach for their full life expectancy. It would be great if more trees like Fairfield can be appreciated in the landscape by my grandchildren.

Ol’ Westy – 106+ years old. Dedicated landmark tree of Westminster Neighbourhood (4th ave – 16 Street N)

When organizing the ISA Professional Development Conference in 2006, I was challenged to track down speakers. I found Will Koomjian and Brian French who locate and measure the largest trees in Oregon. They shared their experiences and some awe inspiring photos and videos about their task of “Ascending the Giants”. It was very motivational. More recently, a new World’s Tallest Tree was found in California. Hyperion was measured by Steve Sillett of Humboldt State University at 379.1 feet tall. I hope you enjoy these videos depicting Giant trees and the passionate people who are trying to record and preserve them. If you know of a tree or group of trees worthy of nomination for “Alberta Heritage Tree Status”, please feel free to contact me about the process. They can be a tree of significance either by size, age or social impact.


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