Sustainability and tree surgeon courses: the future of trees
You’d be forgiven for wondering how on earth tree surgery and sustainability can work together. A sympathetic approach is essential for not only the benefit of the tree and its future but for you as a tree surgeon.
Clearly, you are a tree surgeon of integrity and appreciate that being a professional tree surgeon is not just about lopping off branches and chopping every tree down. The cutting down or felling of trees is only a very small part of a tree surgeon’s role.
The role of a tree surgeon
We believe an arborist’s role is to identify and complete any works for the benefit, health, and longevity of the tree. As a professional tree surgeon, sustainability plays a vital role within the industry and future of the arboricultural sector in an ever-changing world.
Key elements of being a tree surgeon are to recognise and identify problems and how best to deal with them, such as:
- pests and diseases
- identification of previous or incorrect pruning carried out
- knowing what is best for the tree
- educating your customers
- recognising stress from environmental factors
Issues with topping and lopping
The fundamental issue with topping and lopping is that this terminology is not associated with professional tree surgeons or arborists.
Furthermore, we believe these terms are primarily associated with those individuals who are not necessarily qualified or insured. People who are belittling the industry as a whole and undermining your:
- experience and qualifications
- expenses, such as insurance and equipment costs
- ethics and the morality of genuine people
The terminology we should use includes, crown lifting, crown thinning, crown reduction.
Undoubtedly, incorrect pruning is not only detrimental to the tree canopy, causing potentially irreversible damage, but can be a danger to people and property. This is even more true within the current climate with issues such as Ash dieback and the structural integrity of the trees being compromised with little to no clear tell-tale signs of infection.
Pruning the right way should therefore start with:
- understanding why pruning is required
- knowing if it’s the correct time of year for that particular species
- having the right tools and equipment for the job
- knowing when to stop, not excessive removal
- knowledge and identification of branch collars
Sustainability and tree surgery
Sustainability in tree surgery starts with having a sympathetic approach to tree management and understanding the vital role of trees within the environment and society. It is not just a cash cow, one quick job and it’s done.
Can you say that you do or have ever approached tree work from an environmental and sustainable viewpoint?
Consider this, that ‘correct’ pollarding benefits not only the trees, but society too?
Traditionally, pollarding was to produce fodder to feed livestock, which we have long since stopped doing in the UK. However, are we about to see a revival for woodland production.
Pollarding trees tend to make trees live longer, and if done in a woodland situation, encourages undergrowth due to increased light levels. This in turn increases species biodiversity with increases in both flora and fauna.
A fantastic example of this – which we could really look into more in UK forestry and arboriculture – could be a technique known as ‘daisugi’. Daisugi is a Japanese technique similar to that of coppicing – a traditional method of logging wood whilst actively conserving forests.
Trust me when I tell you that if we had some space or land to plant some cedar trees to do this, we would be on with the idea straight away!
Could daisugi be a way to reduce our carbon footprint, by using more traditional techniques in our day-to-day processes of tree management?
Another way to think more sustainably within tree surgery and arboriculture could be to consider the term ‘treeecologists‘: someone who specialises in tree health and is a caretaker of the tree, rather than just felling it (where possible and safe to do so). A US company called Leaf and Limb has led the way with this as its philosophy and has become the first tree service to be certified as a B Corporation, which includes meeting very strict requirements such as:
- environmental practices
- community relationships
- working conditions
What things spring to mind that you could do within your business model that could change the future and encourage a more sustainable industry and healthier environment?