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  • samhardingham31

Do you even Arbor?

1st published in "The Bark" Volume 24, Winter 2020.


So many arborists, where have all the trees gone? If a medical surgeon lost as many patients as us, there'd be a royal commission! Clients rely on arborists for expert advice, but they’re prescribing the work. Many climbers get lost in the smell of 2 stroke, blinded by shiny new gear and can lose track of the purpose of an arborist. Why do so many get offended if they’re referred to as a lopper? Lets take a step back and look at why we do this work in the first place.


“I’m not a lopper, I’m an ARBORIST!”. A phrase echoed by the community of tree workers and one I have used myself over the years. When you bring 15 years of experience to somebody’s house to do the tree work they want, but they call you a lopper, it can feel degrading. So many climbers get offended if they’re called a lopper. I always thought I was better than someone that gets called a lopper, but what’s the difference?

Cut trees, Get paid. Is that still Arboriculture? Often, the clients I meet already have a picture in their mind of what they want their tree to look like or they’ve decided it’s time to have it removed. With no expert advice, they’ve concluded what they want done. THEN, they call the ‘expert’, an arborist. Sure, most of us know how much we can prune off a tree and still have it survive, but is that arboriculture? It takes great skill to remove some trees, but if the tree is healthy, would an Arborist remove it? Do we always do what’s best for trees or do we do what the people want because that’s how we get paid?


But I’m a qualified arborist. When I refer to loppers, I’m not referring to pruning cuts, correct use of PPE or their ability to conduct efficient tree work, I’m referring to the type of work they conduct. Most urban areas are flooded with companies that will cut whatever it takes to get paid. As long as they don’t prune “too much” or the client has a reasonable excuse for removal, the “arboriculture” continues. When the only metric is money, the chainsaws need to run and the term arboriculture is used to glamorise the work or justify it as professional. The tree industry is lucrative. There is a difference between a tree lopper, a business owner and an arborist. The next time you say “But if I don’t do it, someone else will”, question your integrity as an arborist and ask yourself, do you even arbor?


This is a short excerpt from Sam's presentation, Do you even Arbor. The full presentation covers topics such as: the career path of an Arborist, why humans have a connection with trees, life saving benefits of trees and the role arborists play in managing the urban forest. Please get in touch if you would like to have this presented at your next tree event.


Reference: Image 1, Joe Harris, are you an arborist or a tree lopper.

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