Tree Climbing for Bat and Tree Surveys

Specifically for ecologists, our tree climbing and rescue (CS38) courses run regularly in North Yorkshire, perfectly suited for those in ecology looking to carry out bat and tree surveys.

Tree Climbing for Ecologists


Ecologists, this IS the tree climbing surveys course you need and want!

With the niche world of ecology becoming ever-growing, we have put together a specialist tree climbing course for ecologists. After completing this course, you will receive the Tree Climbing and Rescue (CS38) certificate, which many ecologists now require. Although this certification is already in our offering, this particular course is directly tailored to ecologists, and the content will be much more relevant to this industry.

Ecologists and arborists share many of the same skills when it comes to tree climbing, and thus far have shared the exact same course content. However, we understand and appreciate that you both come from quite different sectors, and as such have different needs from the tree climbing course. Whilst the content will remain similar for the purposes of completing your certification with the awarding body, we have ensured that there is a greater focus on ecology and tree climbing surveys within this particular course. This is designed to help you take your skills and apply them to your profession.

A good tree climber makes the job of climbing a tree look very easy. However, this has taken years to perfect! When you attend a tree climbing course with other arborists, you can feel a little intimidated. So, here is the answer – attend a tree climbing course that is specifically for those in ecology, looking to carry out bat surveys or tree inspections.

The tree climbing CS38 course is the course you need to enable you to carry out bat surveys, and tree inspections whilst working at height and from rope systems. Furthermore, it is a legal requirement that anyone carrying out tree climbing operations must have a fully qualified aerial rescuer – so that could be you too! 

You may have been asked by:
  • your membership body e.g. CIEM
  • your employer
  • or a new contract opportunity to demonstrate competence through certification

If so, and you are planning to gain your tree climbing CS38 qualification have you been:

  • Struggling to find the right fit in terms of a training provider?
  • Not sure that the regular tree climbing surveys course quite fits your specific requirements?
  • Confused by all the names, numbers and acronyms for the land based courses that are available to you?
  • Worried you will get it wrong or waste your hard-earned money?
  • Concerned that it will feel like going back to school?
  • Looking to gain a qualification to continue with jobs because legislation has changed?
  • Offered a new and exciting contract, but need another ticket/qualification to seal the deal?
This is a 5-day ecologists tree climbing course, where you can expect the following:
  • plenty of time to learn to trust the climbing system, and complete all tasks with no added pressure
  • the opportunity to try out different climbing systems
  • improve branch walking techniques
  • to use probes and get into a position that makes your job easier
  • the opportunity to discuss tree climbing surveys and safety
  • develop skills and identify when to climb and not to climb
  • time and tools to prepare for your assessment on the 6th day
  • it has been tailored to those specifically in ecology
  • your small group of four ecologists all have similar passions and interests, and you can learn from one another
  • enjoy the fifth day to hone your climbing skills
  • less pressure to keep up with other candidates if you attended the standard CS38 tree climbing course
  • use of our climbing kits at no extra cost! You just need to bring your arborist climbing helmet

Then wonderful ecology folk… we can help you!

This tailored tree climbing programme provides you with everything you need and more for your role as an ecologist, in the world of tree climbing. 

You can rest assured knowing we provide award-winning training through tailored, flexible, friendly, approachable trainers and assessors.

All courses run with small groups to ensure you have as much time as needed to learn and experience what is required for the assessments if you chose to take them. Our trainers and assessors undoubtedly have the experience and are friendly and approachable.

Finally, as with all Lowe Maintenance courses, you get support and advice via email or on the phone, if you need it in the future. Just because you’ve completed the course, it doesn’t mean you can’t get in touch if you need more information or guidance.

City and Guilds accreditation

Is the certificate you will gain on successful completion of your tree climbing and aerial rescue assessment. 

A  five-day course, with a sixth day for the assessment, (usually on a Saturday).

Group sizes are no more than four candidates to one trainer, so nice small group sizes. To allow for plenty of discussion and questions. 

You will have access to the Lowe Maintenance portal on booking where you will find leaflets and updates to look through before attending the practical session. 

On this tree climbing for ecologists course you will be learning about:

  • risks of tree climbing such as hazards you may come across on work sites
  • what you need to do in an emergency
  • how health and safety legislation will affect you, specifically in respect of the two-rope climbing system
  • identify an occupied tree, signs of activity of birds, bats, squirrels, wasps!
  • ascending the tree with and without mechanical aids
  • moving around the tree and branch walking
  • descending safely (not at high speed!)
  • various methods of aerial rescue including pole rescue. Training dummies are in place for all rescues on our courses (why on earth would you have unqualified people carrying out rescues on each other! It really doesn’t bear thinking about). 
An exciting extra for you is getting to try out different climbing systems and equipment such as:
  • hitch climbers
  • spider jacks
  • cambium savers
  • captain hooks
  • ascenders

before you think about buying them and find you do not like them. This a fantastic chance to try before you buy!

Also, a huge bonus for you is that you can hire one of our climbing kits at no extra cost! You just need to bring your arborist climbing helmet.
Because we firmly believe how do you know what to buy or what you like. As you’ve not done the course yet!

Bear in mind that this course is physically demanding and requires the carrying of equipment in woodland and countryside environments. You will have to carry the kit and equipment, you have been issued.   

Candidate portal

On booking your course you will be given access to the candidate portal, where you will find lots of leaflets and documentation to read through, ideally before you attend the course. This helps you with the terminology during the course and gives you a heads-up of what to expect in any discussions and practical sessions. There are even some videos we need you to watch to help embed your learning in preparation for your assessments. 


The tree climbing and aerial rescue training is five days, and on a sixth day (usually a Saturday), you will be assessed by an independent City and Guilds assessor. 

We may be stating the obvious and it is sad that we have to be saying this as it appears it is not common practice. 

When attending a course with us, you must follow any instructions that are given when using any equipment and carrying out tasks, for the safety of all involved. 

For further details please see our terms and conditions for courses.

Other courses of interest to you



There are several systems to climb trees and there is no requirement to be built like a brick privy. We do taster days and introductory sessions by arrangement so you can have a play in a tree before you book for a course so that you have an idea of how physical it can be. You will also be using an ascender on day two of the course to help you access the tree. 

There is nothing to stop you using them but courses are normally run using the basic friction devices as not everyone can afford these more expensive pieces of equipment. Having a standard system during the training makes the rescue situations easier to understand, however, if you are going to use lock jacks and spider jacks it is extremely important everyone in your team understands how to use them.

The main knots used throughout the training course with Lowe Maintenance are:

  • Bowline
  • Blake’s hitch
  • Prussic
  • Lark’s foot
  • Stop knot

Personal tree climbing equipment is supposed to comply with the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. It should be inspected on a 6-monthly basis by an independent person. This period cannot be extended but may be shortened due to the working environment or specific requirements of the site you are working on.

If you are working on the ground there is no problem using a forestry helmet with a chin strap but in the air, it is not allowed, you must wear a climbing helmet.


You are advised by HSE to have a refresher every 5 years, this however depends on the company you work for, as some have different regulations for refreshers such as National Trust which is every 3 years.

There are several ways for you to practise the knots before the course, these include:

  • Your area in the Lowe Maintenance Candidate Portal (once you have purchased the course)
  • YouTube
  • Tree climber’s companion book
  • Knots 3D app

There are lots of very good female tree climbers; women often have a very good muscle to body weight ratio and are methodical in their work so there is certainly no reason why not. Women currently climbing in the industry include Boel Hammarstrand, Rachel Smith, Eva-Maria Mauz and Annalize Wright to name just a few.

There are a number of leaflets about this, one is provided by the Bat Conservation Trust ‘How are trees important to bats’. If you look at their website you will be able to download lots of good information. You should arrange a tree survey if you are worried, just to be sure. 

It is hard to describe the best harness as every person is built differently and really you need to try before you buy. This is easier said than done but if you ask around you may get some good answers. A very important point to note is once you have bought your harness you must fit it correctly, there are lots of straps and buckles that need fitting specifically to you. We have several different harnesses for people to use on Lowe Maintenance’ tree climbing courses. You can see which feels better for you, this will help you to make an informed decision.

This is not good practice but it is also not that easy to spot an occupied tree.

If you know it to be occupied, then the answer is no as you may disturb the roost and that can be a bit expensive in the form of court actions and possibly your professional reputation.

That is up to you and your confidence levels. If there is a problem, you will have to explain to the insurance company why you were up a tree on a particularly windy day.

Yes, there is no reason why not. The tree may be a bit more slippery and you may have to adapt the climb to the conditions but there is no reason why you can’t.

A double-action karabiner means it has two motions to close the gate and make it secure, these are easily opened and have been known to open due to rubbing on the trees and branches. This is why they should not be used as part of the life anchor points in the climbing system. The triple-action has three motions to close the gate. The triple-action is the only karabiner to be used as part of the life anchor point as it is harder to open accidentally.

It is advisable that you have another climber on-site in case something goes wrong. It takes time for the emergency services to respond, that second climber can get to you quicker and shorten the time it takes to get proper help. Most noteworthy is that your insurance company will want you too!

The branch size depends on the characteristics of the tree and its condition. The branch must be strong enough to take lateral forces as well as supporting the climber. On the tree climbing course, you shouldn’t suspend yourself from branches less than 4” in diameter.

SRT is Stationary Rope Techniques or Static Rope Techniques, this is a method of accessing and working a tree using mechanical aids to climb. It can make climbing a lot easier but requires a good understanding of rope systems and equipment.

There are several things you could read. The Tree Climber’s Companion and The Arboricultural Association’s A Guide to Good Climbing Practice

It is advisable for your personal growth to learn more about trees and their characteristics. Especially with the number of pests and diseases that are about these days. We need to improve our biosecurity in general.

The Arboricultural Associations Guide to Climbing Practice has a list of the equipment you need. The number of pieces is down to you and your budget.

Be careful as it is easy to buy too much and buy lots of shiny bling that you may never use. If you attend a course with Lowe Maintenance, you will know what to buy by the end of the course as you’ll have used our kit during the course.

Ropes are like harnesses; the choice is down to personal feel. The average rope is 10mm to 13mm diameter although 12mm to 13mm is more commonly used as they are easier to grip and less chance of hand strain. The smaller diameter ropes are used mainly with mechanical aids and, depending on the item you use, as a friction component. The manufacturer may state a rope diameter, which you should follow for your own safety.

It depends on the tree and the distance between the branches, there is no easy answer, ideally, you need to get as high as you can so that you can carry out effective branch walking.

It is a strong recommendation that anyone working with a chainsaw should have some level of first aid training due to the increased potential for an accident.

HSE advise that you practise at least once a month. If you require an aerial rescue refresher give us a call to arrange a suitable date.

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