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Issues Concerning the Use of Ropes Courses in Trees [Construction] (an e-Book)

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Issues Concerning the Use of Ropes Courses in Trees (Construction) [an e-Book]

by RDC, 12-pages 2.5Mb PDF

The Issues Concerning the Use of Ropes Courses in Trees guide was written by Steve Maros, Arboriculturalist Consultant. This guide aims to clarify the confusion with using trees in the design and construction of challenge ropes courses and even nature play spaces for kids. 

Ropes courses are not as bad for trees as many people might think. The small extra risk of infection that may be caused by putting in the bolts is more than off-set by the better management they receive as a result of being used. As stated throughout this report, in the final analysis, it comes down to individual preference.

The author has been inspecting trees with ropes courses in them for over two decades and during that time he has inspected in excess of 4000 trees. Many of these have been visited on a least 10 occasions. To date, he has found no evidence that having a ropes course in these trees has in any way shortened their life beyond that which would normally be expected. He continues to monitor these trees on an annual basis and the evidence collated will serve to provide more detailed information about the impact of ropes courses on trees.


Steve Maros is currently the Head of Horticulture at Kingston Maurward College, where he specialises in teaching Arboriculture, Woodland Management and Forestry. He has well over 3 decades of experience of working with trees. This has ranged from forestry work to urban forestry work. Steve is a guest lecturer in arboriculture at the National School of Forestry and he has been working with trees in connection with ropes courses for well over 2 decades.

He regularly inspects trees and Steve has given a range of talks concerning the health of trees to various organisations including the regional branch of the International Tree Foundation and the Wildlife Trust. He has previously presented a paper on the same topic at a conference on building challenge ropes courses.

NB: This guide was produced to support the challenge ropes course builder, and to help develop existing and new play space designers. As such, some policy and other references may now be out of date.

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