Archive for 2011


Tree Maintenance LTD hangs out with the langurs

Carryduff based company, Clarke Cunningham Tree Maintenance Ltd have taken a walk on the wild side by sponsoring Belfast Zoological Garden’s Francois langur enclosure as part of their corporate partnership scheme. 

Tree Maintenance Ltd was established in 1982 and from a small two man team the organisation has developed into a major company within the arboriculture industry in Northern Ireland. They have provided their services to the zoo for many years. From tree surveys, planning consultations, tree planting and landscape design. Tree Maintenance Ltd has decided to further support the zoo and become a corporate partner.

Belfast Zoo’s corporate partnership scheme entitles the company to showcase their brand and services to over 300,000 visitors a year and they also receive key benefits including behind the scenes tours.

Tree Maintenance Ltd’s general manager, Gareth Casement, said “We are delighted to take part in Belfast Zoo’s corporate partnership scheme.  We are also thrilled to be supporting the Francois langur, a species which is facing extinction and which also appears to have so much in common with our own climbing staff! We are pleased that this scheme gives us the opportunity to support these marvellous primates and the continued conservation work of Belfast zoo.”

“Francois langurs are facing a high risk of extinction due to habitat destruction, increased agriculture, warfare, logging and they are also hunted as food, for medicine and for the pet trade.  In
2003, there were estimated to be less than 500 langurs in Vietnam and only approximately 1400 in China.  Francois langurs are part of a breeding programme and Belfast Zoo plays an active role in the conservation of this beautiful species, as we hold the studbook!” said Mark Challis, zoo manager.  “Local businesses such as Tree Maintenance Ltd play a vital role in the development of the zoo and our corporate partnership scheme not only allows these businesses to help us fulfil our role in protecting animals, such as the Francois langur, that are in danger but
also provides these businesses with a range of benefits.”

You can find out more about ‘Clarke Cunningham Tree Maintenance ltd’ by visiting their website, or for more information about Belfast Zoo’s corporate partnership scheme go to

Historic Antrim Woodland receives lottery funding

One of the largest tree surgery projects in Northern Ireland has recently been carried out by Clarke Cunningham Tree Maintenance Ltd., on behalf of Antrim Borough Council, at the historic Castle Gardens.

This work heralds the start of an ambitious multi-million project to revitalise the Antrim Castle Gardens. This is a large site that includes a number of Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments and lies within Antrim Conservation Area. The main works which are about to commence on site include the refurbishment of three buildings, the restoration of a number of historic landscape features including the Castle site, Motte, Terrace / French Gardens, Pleasure Gardens and Canals, with tree-lined vistas restored and woodland paths upgraded. New parking facilities will be provided along with new amenity lighting, street furniture and interpretation. The work will also see the planting of a large number of trees, shrubs and hedging within the site. The project is being funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Antrim Borough Council.

Antrim Castle Gardens is today an important public park containing over 3,000 trees some of which are over 400 years old. The Landscape Architects on the project, MWA Partnership, appointed Dr. Philip Blackstock, a well know Arborculturalist, to carry out a tree condition survey within the site in order to determine the extent of works required. His report recommended work to approximately 1,000 trees on a Health and Safety and increased lifespan basis.

The arboricultural work included a variety of tree surgery operations around the grounds in order to address various concerns arising from the report. For example a large number of mature trees had their crowns reduced in overall size to mitigate the stress on potentially weak trunks or roots, particularly where specimens were sited beside roadways paths or buildings. Other trees, particularly large Limes along the long historic vistas, had lower branches removed or pruned back in order to restore the original vista originally envisaged by the designers of the gardens. A number of trees that were found to be dead, dying, diseased or structurally defective were felled, but in order to replace these, a replanting programme of approximately 1,500 trees was undertaken. The majority of these young trees were Oak (Quercus Petraea), but some Hazel and Holly were planted as well. Within the woodland areas, great efforts were made to adopt as sensitive an approach to the tree works as possible. Thus some deadwood/ branches was allowed to remain where it was felt not to be a potential health and safety threat to the public, while trimming of branches was restricted as far as possible to a maximum branch diameter of 100mm.

Whilst working at the trees around the Castle Gardens grounds, the Arborists from Clarke Cunningham Tree Maintenance Ltd. had to be mindful of the varied bio diversity within the woodland with respect to nesting birds and roosting bats in particular. Where these two species were found in residence, whether nesting or roosting, the tree in question was left undisturbed and will be worked on at a later date. Where the Arborists encountered a potential bat roost in a tree, advice was readily available from a local bat expert who guided the team in the best way to cause as little disturbance as possible to these tiny, secretive creatures. Other smaller forest floor creatures were also given the benefit of browsing or sheltering amongst the many ‘habitat’ piles of branches and timber left by the team around the woodland areas.

Commenting on the award of this prestigious contract, Clarke Cunningham Tree Maintenance General Manager, Gareth Casement said “this was a very important high profile job for our company, as we were tasked with the care and maintenance of a very large number of mature trees within a historic and bio-diverse environment. All our Arborists enjoyed working on the trees around the woodland areas and have carried out the recommended work to a high professional standard.”

Man of the trees calls it a day!

When most working men are near to their mid 60’s, their thoughts would naturally centre around retirement and taking life easier.  But for one Ballynahinch man, retirement was the last thing on his mind when he reached 65!

Sammy McElnea has spent all his working life involved with trees in various ways during the last 60 years, 27 of these working for the Ministry of Agriculture – Forestry Division.

As a 19 year old living at his family home in Newcastle, he started his career with the “ministry” at nearby Tollymore Forest, before being engaged to carry out felling and extraction of forest produce either by hand or with horses at Castlewellan, Rostrevor and Bannagher Forests.

He left the Forest Service in 1979 and started his own sawmill at Rademon near Crossgar, producing a range of timber fencing products mainly for Agricultural customers.

After some years, he joined the staff of Montalto Estate in Ballynahinch, where he helped to maintain the woodland and grounds around this well known Demesne.  However, when he reached the age of 65, he had to ‘retire’ from this job on his actual birthday.

The very next day he started as a team leader with Clarke Cunningham Tree Maintenance in Killyleagh, (a company where his eldest son was a manager), in charge of a team of Arborists involved with vegetation management around NIE power cables all over the Province.

Just short of his 70th birthday, he undertook a tree climbing course and is one of the oldest (and fittest) men to hold such an accreditation!

In 2007, Sammy followed CCTM to their new base at Carryduff and has been in charge of the stores there ever since.  He is the first person to arrive at 6.30am every morning to open up the premises ready for the influx of some 50 staff who may require saws and consumable items for their days work.  He also would make repairs to equipment and ensure that the correct stock levels of protective clothing and consumable items were available “off the shelf”.

Now that Sammy is in his 79th year, he has decided to retire before he becomes an octogenarian, but even that milestone would not faze a person like him!  Now he can look forward to taking things much easier and enjoying more bowls, gardening and being with his wife Anna and his close family circle.

All the staff at Clarke Cunningham Tree Maintenance Ltd will miss Sammy’s breadth of experience and knowledge within the business, but wish him a happy and enjoyable retirement.