Trees give us shade, they give us fruit and they give us life. But it takes a lot of work to keep our trees healthy.

Friday was the start of the Arizona Community Tree Councils 2024 Tree Festival and Tree Climbing Championship.

The event features 35 of the best tree climbers from Arizona, Utah and Nevada, competing to see who is the master climber.

You may have climbed trees as a kid, but never quite like this.

Climbers hung over 50 feet in the air, competing in five different areas, including ascent, which is measured by speed, throwline, where competitors have to ring a rope around specified branches, plus a simulated rescue.

Along with the competition, the festival serves as a way to show the important, and often dangerous work that these arborists go through every day to keep our trees healthy.

For ACTC Tree Festival organizer Pete Thomas, it also provides the chance to educate on how to take care of trees in our community.

Every time you put a chainsaw to a tree or cut a tree, its gonna react in a certain manner, says Thomas, an arborist at RO Landscape and Tree Service. So doing it properly and being educated on what we do here to our trees is extremely important.

In Tucson, trees provide about 3.8% shade coverage. This means keeping our trees healthy goes a long way towards keeping our community, especially during the scorching summer months.

One of the weekends competitors, Ryan Swederski is a champion tree climber who has been competing for years. He runs Swederskis Independent Consulting, which provides arborist training, hazard consulting and safety mitigation.

Far from being scared of heights, Ryan relishes the difficulty that comes with climbing trees.

For me, its a challenge, you know, its the mental toughness that you have to go through, Swederski says. Its not that anybody can do it for you. You have to work through all those mental difficulties working at heights and its a battle between you and the tree.

While the Tree Festival provides lots of fun activities, the organizers hope the community realizes just how important trees are to all of us.

We have to live together, Thomas says. Without the trees, were done.

On Saturday, the ACTC Tree Festival and Climbing Competition continues, with the master tree climber being named at the end of the day.

Theres also plenty of activities for the kids, such as a birdhouse building workshop and an appearance by Mayor Regina Romero.

Check out the ACTC website for more information about Saturday’s festivities.