This last week, for the first time, the Consulting Arborist Society ran two arborist training courses together, with the ISA’s TRAQ course being hosted by Kew Gardens whilst at Milton Keynes Council, my good friend Bob Widd was hosting CAS’s Tree Preservation Orders course. The latter had been in the diary for some time, whilst the dates for TRAQ were chosen more recently in order to fit in with our hosts. It has been an interesting few weeks bringing all of this together.
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The consensus is that we are not building enough homes in this country. The planning system is often cited as the reason, with trees an occasional hurdle. Those of us involved in the planning process can probably cite a range of cases where an applicant has faced what may be regarded as unreasonable challenges. For me, in my adopted county of Herefordshire, the requirement to provide a Tree Protection Plan as a condition for an approved development and, down in Swansea, where a derelict site was being regenerated, the insistence on a Landscape Statement with the nearest trees being on neighbouring land are two applications I have commented on within the last year.
I owe quite a bit to TPOs. After all, it was the role of administering them for Dudley Council that gave me my first opening as a tree officer. Looking back, I had the luxury of knowing about trees and some guidance in to the process, and this role, together with planning consultations, was my sole job. I have also benefitted from updated training via the Consulting Arborist Society.
The Consulting Arborist Society was founded on the principle of arboricultural consultants demonstrating their competency within specific specialist areas. This is different to merely attending a course for CPD purposes, and is a factor which drew me to CAS as I worked to develop my skills. With the CAS model, the person delivering the training is responsible to determining how competency is to be assessed. A number of external industry courses are recognised by CAS, with assessment of competency being determined by those who award the individual qualification.
Two CAS Milestones in a week.
Last month, at the end of a busy period which saw me exhibiting at the ARB Show at Westonbirt Arboretum then hosting Experts’ Question Time: 3 and attending Barcham’s Big Barn, concluded with Wyre Forest District Council hosting the Lantra endorsed ‘Professional Amenity Tree Valuation’ course led by Dr. Jon Heuch.
I have been interested in veteran and other ancient trees for many years now. I am always looking for articles on these special trees. There is something about a gnarled old tree, whose life has spanned the centuries and may live for centuries ahead. To me, respect is due.
On Wednesday 17th June, I was one of more than 500 guests invited to attend Barcham’s Big Barn conference, themed ‘A Day In The Urban Forest’. This is the fourth time that Barcham’s have hosted an event on this scale, although previously for 400 guests. Inspired by last year’s ICF conference, with more than 400 delegates, one of the largest gatherings of tree care professionals in the UK, the Barcham’s team pondered whether they could go one better, and put on an event for a record-breaking 500 guests.
My early professional career in arboriculture included time as a tree officer in planning, a time I look back and consider halcyon. I worked in planning, and made and administered TPOs. There are trees in the Dudley borough which remain because of my intervention, something I remain proud of. I worked hard and covered a great deal of work, and considered the service to be under resourced.
I have been pondering presentation in recent weeks, and perception. Perception can be so very different from reality. When this is the case, who is responsible, and what do we do about it? I was going to title this thought ‘perception: what do we do when it is wrong?’ However, I wondered how many people would skip the text anticipating a dull article.
In my days as a tree officer, I realised that the more senior the position I sought for career development, the less important my skills as an arborist would be. There would be more time in the office managing situations and less time working with trees. Indeed, there are tree managers who rarely get to leave the office as they deal with budgets, strategies, staffing and other such issues. Preferring to spend my time with trees, the freelance approach soon took me away from this environment.