Image Of A Forest

Image of Robert Crussell

Written by
Robert Crussell

March 2017

Trees are everywhere and almost everybody sees trees every day. So, of course, we all know a lot about them, right? Err.. well, we learn photosynthesis at GCSE and can recognise an oak leaf at a stretch. Some of us know more, and some less. But trees and Arboriculture remain a specialist subject that is a mystery to most, and this confusion has led to the spreading of a lot of false information about trees. In this blog entry, I have highlighted a few of my favourite misconceptions and tried to gently nudge the reader back onto the right path. Further reading encouraged, and questions welcome!!

  • 1. Arboriculture is tree surgery

Yes, and no! Tree surgery is the physical act of performing the work that is set out in a tree management plan. Arboriculture is so much more than that!

Arborists and Arboricultural consultants deal predominantly with the management of individual trees, often in populated urban environments. They will evaluate the health and condition of trees, any structural or physiological defects present, the trees’ impact on the environment, and will compound all of this information into a management plan. This may take the form of a report or simply be a conversation.

The management plan will often revolve around the human interaction with the tree, rather than purely on the health of the tree (eg. Health and safety work to protect pedestrians or pruning work for aesthetic reasons). A professional Arborist will balance the human aspect against the physiological requirements of a tree to recommend a management plan that maximises the benefit to all – who knew that Arboriculture was so diplomatic!

Arborists and Arboriculturalists will also be involved in choosing appropriate species for planting schemes, monitoring and quarantining threats from new diseases and pests, designing and advising on new construction methods which benefit tree roots, and about a thousand other things! Arboriculture includes tree surgery, but is by no means limited to it!

  • 2. Trees require work to remain healthy

Half-true! Scientists believe that trees probably appeared during the Carboniferous era, around 350 million years ago. Since then, they have survived in their many permutations without intervention and now exist in nearly every corner of the world.

The healthiest trees exist in woodland, far from the stresses of an urban environment. However, given the huge expansion of cities and towns in the UK since the industrial revolution, there has been a growing need to monitor and maintain the health of trees where the effects of failure could be catastrophic.

Urban environments bring with them a plethora of stressors to tree life. Soil compaction, salt spray damage, pollution, and urban heating are just a few. It is trees which are subjected to these conditions that are likely to require remedial work. This is where your Arboricultural profession will be able to advise you best!