CAN you imagine working 40ft above the ground, high up in the trees above the stunning landscape of an arboretum? Well, that's what the tree climbers at Westonbirt Arboretum do on a daily basis and last week they showed their niche skillsets off to thousands of people at the Arb Show.

Dozens of UK, European and world champion tree climbers and arboretum workers scaled the branches of the colourful spring trees for the competitions held at the show on May 12 and 13 to not only show off but to promote the important work they do to protect the environment.

"You can't just go racing up the trees," Stewart Wardrop, CEO of the Arboricultural Association, said. "That's no good. The climbers we had get judged on different elements of tree climbing and usually look for things such as the course through the trees, the way back down, the tension of the rope and the proficiency of all of that while doing tasks.

"In a way, competitions mimic a working environment against the clock and, like a lot of world competitions, we try to enhance the competitors' knowledge and skill base.

"The competitions are quite important for us, especially when they form part of public festivals, because it allows our visitors to see the type of equipment we use and the safe and consistent way we approach our work."

Thousands flocked through the gates at Westonbirt Arboretum for the free show, which also included dozens of traders and a beer tent, and the CEO admitted it was one of their most successful events yet.

"We had the best ever festival with more than 5,500 people going through the gates at Westonbirt over two days, which was very good and up about 1,500 people from last year.

"When we met with the arboretum team last year, they offered us the space in the arena, which we never had access to before and it has proved to be very successful. Having the climbing right night to the arena certainly helped with the success too."