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A View From The Treehouse: The Value of Influence

Some time ago, I was being interviewed for the position of Tree Manager within an organisation.  The question was posed, ‘what is the most effective way to influence the organisation, so that those working operationally are embracing best practice as part of the culture?’ The answer is to seek, with policy, training and education, to inform from the highest possible level and work to ensure this is then being implemented throughout the organisation, and becomes part of its’ DNA.

I was reminded of this during the week, when I attended a reception held by The Tree Council to promote National Tree Planting Week.  It may help that The Tree Council was formed by the government of the day to keep the momentum of tree planting going following ‘Plant A Tree In ‘73’.  Having a peer of the realm as a trustee also helps to open doors: the reception was at the House of Lords.  However, the organisation is informing the decision-makers.

One thing I appreciate about The Tree Council is that it actively seeks the opinions of those in the industry which can then be used to inform policy, and work to ensure that this is heard by the most appropriate individuals.

In one of those bizarre moments resulting from channel hopping, I recently found myself watching a recording of the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, being questioned on plant health and the fall out from Sudden Ash Dieback.  This man has considerable influence.  He seems to have had one of those ‘eureka’ moments.  He recognised that bio-security for plants and animals is not compatible with the unrestricted flow of these through borders.  They cannot be treated like pure commodities.  He had looked at the system in Australia, where imports are carefully checked.  He explained that he is planning changes for the UK.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see how this develops.  Meanwhile, I shall continue to seek to inform and educate, and to ensure tree consultancy best practice is properly represented.  One of the challenges that I have encountered has been decisions being made based on the financial year to 5th April, which the natural world does not follow.  During my days as a tree officer, there were occasions when extra funds for tree work became available late in the financial year, but needed to be used before 5th April.  Accountants did not appreciate the significance of spring to pruning works, and a careful juggling of priorities was needed to make good use of the situation.

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.

  • HWadmin

    Hi Stuart – I know you are a member of our Horticulture Week Linked In Group – might be worth publicising your surveys there?