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Francisco Davila

Alliance at Work: Wintertime with the Arborists

February 16, 2017

In these cold winter months, some aspects of Park maintenance go into a state of hibernation, and many Alliance staff members wait patiently and plan for the upcoming spring season. Not so for arborists Francisco Davila and Christopher Gucciardo, who take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by the winter.

“Our job is year-round,” says Francisco Davila, Arboriculture Supervisor for Prospect Park Alliance, “and every season brings its own set of tasks.”  Prospect Park Alliance arborists have a big task set for them in the care and maintenance of the Park's more than 30,000 trees, which represent more than 200 species. This is Brooklyn’s last remaining forest, and it is an important wildlife habitat that supports more than 250 species of birds, and countless other creatures.

So what exactly does an arborist do during this chilly time of year? “During the winter we focus on tree pruning and assessments. Since trees are without leaves, winter does provide us the luxury to very quickly spot issues such as cracks, rubbing branches and of course dead limbs. Winter is also a great time for us to scout and plan the future of our canopy by selecting planting sites for our Commemorative Tree Program.”

During this season, it isn’t uncommon to happen upon Davila and his crew taking down tree limbs or removing a tree altogether. So why are they doing this? “Being in a historic park such as Prospect Park we have a lot of beautiful mature trees. We are never happy to remove trees but when we do, it’s because of warranted reasons,” said Davila. When his crew or a Park visitor spots a damaged or unhealthy tree, they assess the situation, “we try to evaluate the tree’s integrity and potential risks to determine if we are going to remove it. The same goes for tree limbs. In making these decisions, overall safety always comes first.”

One of the most fun aspects of winter work for an arborist? “The new views you get from the canopy,” says Davila. “Since the trees have lost their leaves, when you are climbing you get new vast unobstructed views. It’s awesome.”

The life of a city tree is never an easy one, but the Alliance arborists work year-round to keep these Park residents happy and healthy, so next time you take a walk in the Park, look up! You might just see an arborist taking in the view.

Learn more about the Commemorative Tree Program.