Do They Know About Professional Arboriculture At All? (A view from the Treehouse)

I was recently talking to a professional contractor who had been invited to tender for tree works by a housing association. The contractor was dismayed at the level of knowledge of those who had prepared the schedule of works. Apart from limited knowledge and understanding of tree species, the specification seemed to have been drawn up with no awareness of BS3998.

This, along with my own experience of professional planning consultants seemingly unaware of the full requirements of BS5837, got me thinking: how many non-arb professionals, especially those working with trees, are aware of these standards? More worryingly, how many working in tree care are up to date? BS3998 which covers tree work, was updated in 2010 (from the previous document in 1989). Evidently, many in the industry remain unaware of the changes, because David Dowson at Treelife Training has produced a summary document which he is providing for just £30 (with none of this going to him).

The AA have worked this summer, ably supported by Richard Nicholson, who chaired the BS5837 review committee, to present the changes via ten seminars across the UK. They also promoted an initial offer of a 50% discount for the new document, so that it cost £75 rather than £150. The seminars cost just £75 per delegate to attend. This effort is to be applauded. However, I wonder how many arboricultural professionals attended? What work is being done to present the changes to non-arboricultural professionals?

It doesn’t help when the documents are so expensive, which can only present a barrier to many. However, I suspect that we, as an industry, can do more to educate and inform. I am aware that Barcham Trees is seeking to run a series of seminars for architects on topics associated with trees and the landscape, actually visiting architect practices to disseminate technical information.

Later this year, the new BS8545 standard for young trees is due for publishing in draft form. I am hoping, as Director of the Consulting Arborist Society, to work with Barcham Trees to promote the document and its practical application to practitioners, be they arboricultural consultants, local authority officers, architects, contractors or other interested parties. And I, for one, will continue to promote best practice wherever I can.

Mark Chester is a practising tree consultant at Cedarwood Tree Care, director of the Consulting Arborist Society and a former Tree Officer. A graduate in Amenity Horticulture, he holds the AA Technician?s Certificate. He is a Chartered Environmentalist and Professional Member of the Arboricultural Association and the Institute of Horticulture. As a professional arborist, Mark prepares tree reports for clients from is Herefordshire consultancy.