Episode 48: What we can learn from trees
Play • 34 min

With Ian Allan of the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah

What are some common misconceptions about trees? How can we foster meaningful experiences with them? In which situations does anthropomorphizing work and not work? Arborist Ian Allan spends most of his time among trees in the 200 hectares of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Wilderness Area that he manages in New South Wales, Australia. He has amassed a treasure trove of stories and insights about the woody giants that surround us and provide so many ecosystems services. Ian joined us to discuss how to connect trees with people — both the initiated and the uninitiated. He also shared some details about a new project being conducted in partnership with a local First Nation.


Ian Allan achieved his dream in 2016 by becoming the Supervisor of Natural Areas, Arboriculture, and Open Space at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah. With over 20 years of experience, he now looks after one of the best cool climate tree collections in Australia, manages hundreds of hectares of World Heritage quality wilderness, helps present incredible lawns and gardens whilst conserving vulnerable species like the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis) and Dwarf Mountain Pine (Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii). He still remembers planting his first tree on Arbor Day as part of Australia’s bicentennial celebrations. The joy he felt at watching the tree grow, and his curious pondering over its blue-grey compound leaves, would lead him into a lifelong love of the natural world and plants.

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