On Saturday, April 18th, the Franklin Tree Commission and the City of Franklin is hosting an Arbor Day celebration at Pinkerton park from 10 am-2 pm. During the festivities, Master Tree Climbing Instructor Tim Kovar will be leading tree climbs in honor of Arbor Day. We sat down with Tim to talk about tree climbing, proper equipment and why Arbor Day is so important.

WS:  Can you explain what is a Master Tree Cimbing Instructor?

Kovar: Master Tree Climbing Instructor is a status indicator for those who teach a variety of technical tree climbing skills to the public, researchers, environmentalist, eco-tour operators, naturalist, adventurers, etc.
WS:  What types of trees should we try to climb?

Kovar: Healthy mature trees make the best climbing partners. Some good examples are Oaks, Maples, Walnuts and Hickory trees.

WS:  How important is it to have the proper equipment to climb a tree?

Kovar: Tree climbing is a very unique activity. You need to make sure you have the proper equipment to keep you safe. The majority of rock climbing equipment is not suitable for tree climbing. Just as important, as your gear, is your training. Be sure to receive proper professional training from a qualified tree climbing instructor. If you get stuck 100’ up in a tree, you could be there for awhile as rescuers try to figure out how to get you grounded (most rescue operators are not trained in canopy access rescue techniques).

WS:  Where are some of the most interesting places you have climbed trees?

Kovar: I’ve been blessed to live a child’s dream of climbing trees around our planet. To date, I’ve experienced the canopies of 15 countries. Ascending into the Amazon jungle holds a special place in my heart. The Amazon is the world’s largest forest and you can’t help but feel the intensity of a pulsating abundance of life when you’re 150 feet up above the forest floor. There is a special reverence that overcomes you as you watch all forms of life flying, swinging, crawling, buzzing, slithering, swimming (yes swimming does happen 150 feet up in a tree), bouncing, shuffling around you. The sense of our connectedness to the big picture becomes overwhelming at that time.

WS:  What is the tallest tree you have climbed?

Kovar: The tallest tree in the world is a costal Redwood, just over 370 feet. I’ve been on climbing expeditions, with canopy researchers, into trees that reached the 350 foot mark. I was also part of a climbing team to climb into the worlds 5th largest tree, a giant sequoia near Kings Canyon in California. Once a year, I partner up with a redwood biologist and we lead open public guided redwood climbs into an old growth coastal redwood. It’s a very special and rare opportunity for the average person to see what life is like 200 feet above the forest floor in a 1000yr old tree.

However, the height of the tree is not important to me, I actually feel more at peace while climbing the oak trees in my backyard. As a famous author once said “Tree climbing is about a place to be, not a thing to do.”

WS: As people come out to celebrate Arbor Day, is there anything you feel they should know?

Kovar: We need trees to keep us alive. To myself and many of my colleagues, Arbor Day is a year round event. All of us must cultivate a daily mindfulness regarding our impact on the environment. The more we connect with trees, the earth, the rivers and lakes, the deeper appreciation we will have towards protecting and preserving our natural environment for our children, grandchildren and our futures great grandchildren. Arbor Day creates not only an awareness to trees but also an opportunity to get outside and play with nature.

Just remember – You’re never to old to climb a tree, sit amongst the leaves and contemplate life. Come climb a tree with us at Pinkerton Park this Arbor Day and experience life above it all.

Thanks so much to Tim Kovar for sitting down with us to talk trees and climbing.  To learn more about Tim Kovar’s tree climbing instruction, visit  Tree Climbing Planet.

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