Seen and unseen: Tree management

7 February 2024

Our latest exhibition, Seen and unseen, looks at objects that use plastics to do a job in such a way that we may not realise that the materials are there or that are so good at their job that we stop paying them too much attention.

The first theme featured in the exhibition is, tree management. Trees do an amazing, yet quiet job of offering habit to wildlife, cleaning the air, and offering shade on the hottest days.  In order for these magnificent plants to work their magic they sometimes need a bit of tender loving care and attention.  This work, especially when the tree has grown large, should be carried out by a trained arborist wearing specialist protective clothing.   This includes a good pair of chainsaw trousers.

Chainsaws are used to reduce the height or weight of a tree by removing limbs and branches.  They are high-speed devices which need to be respected and used only by those who have been trained and have a license.  The risks are minimal if used safely and with care but there still is a risk of injury

The Breatheflex Pro trousers make use of high tenacity polymer to ensure good protection with flexibility to manoeuvre around the job site and tree canopy. The trousers feature a resilient and abrasion resistant panel on the front and ankles. The material is woven with Kevlar fibres which make it extremely tough when getting bashed and scraped on trees. These fibres will also protect the body from chainsaw damage by being drawn into the drive sprocket of the saw, which blocks the chain movement. The fibres are resistant to cutting and absorb rotational energy reducing the chainsaw speed.

Abortec have videos on their website demonstrating how protective the trousers are.  These still images show the fibres and how they have tangled into the chain and drive sprocket. The inner ling of the trouser leg has been unaffected and the log, used instead of a leg, is untouched.

Image
A still from a film showing a man holding a chainsaw which is tangled with white fibres.
Image
A still from a film showing a man holding a chainsaw which is tangled with white fibres.

https://arbortec.com/blogs/news/how-do-chainsaw-trousers-work

After watching these videos, if I was to use a chainsaw, I would certainly make sure I was wearing protective trousers like these with their unseen hero fibres.

Louise Dennis, Curator of MoDiP