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The AA Registered Consultant Scheme – Making Progress.

A View From The Treeehouse

The AA Registered Consultant Scheme – Making Progress.

The AARC scheme has existed for as long as I can remember.  It seemed to be a scheme for the elite, and whilst one could aspire to join the scheme, when I became a full-time freelance consultant, it seemed to be stuck in a cul-de-sac.  It was better regarded outside the industry than within.  I remember travelling up to Manchester when the Amenity Arboriculture conference was held there in 2010.  I had been invited to meet with interested parties and discuss ways that the Consulting Arborist Society could provide a career progression ladder for those wishing to become Registered Consultants.

I recall, so very clearly, being asked where my own submission was.  I explained that the scheme as written was not accessible to me at that stage of my career.  As one of those present read out one paragraph in the application pack, it suddenly became apparent that the intentions of the administrators were not fully reflected in this document.  There was a need for a review.

A key element in the journey to becoming a Registered Consultant is that of mind-set.  The consultant needs to be comfortable in the role of providing informed opinion, and of being regarded as the expert.  I know of people with exemplary technical knowledge who are uncomfortable with such a role.  That is not a criticism, but an observation.

I recall a conversation around that time with someone of some experience, who had been unsuccessful with an application.  The decision seemed to them to be very subjective, and in part down to a difference in opinion on a conclusion this person had made.  They were involved in education and taught tree risk management.  If they were not suitable for the scheme, then who could be?  The approach seemed to have been unduly arduous, and they chose not to appeal.  Meanwhile the number of members declined from 47 to 41.

Fast forward to today, and I seem glimmers of progress.  The process has been refined.  The submission is more straight forward and the assessment is no longer made by one person but a panel.  The interview (more than two hours, three times longer than the Institute of Chartered Foresters allocates for Chartership assessments) seems to be very thorough.

However, within the past twelve months, Mark Carter, Kevin Cloud and Jasper Fulford-Dobson have all successfully completed the process.  I am delighted for each of them.  They have all been members of the Consulting Arborist Society, and have evidently benefited from this association.  Much work remains to be done to the scheme.  The following statistic is eye-opening: there are more arboricultural consultants who are Fellows of the Arboricultural Association who are Chartered Arboriculturists with the Institute of Chartered Foresters than there are members of the Registered Consultant scheme!

However, the tanker seems to be pointing in the right direction.  With possibly more than one-quarter of the existing Registered Consultants expected to retire in the next five years, the need for more applications is imperative.  Momentum is beginning to build.  This needs to be maintained.