An arborist, or arboriculturist, is a professional who practices arboriculture, which is the cultivation, management, and study of individual trees, shrubs, vines and other perennial woody plants. Arborists are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are highly trained professionals equipped to provide proper care. Arborists generally focus on the health and safety of individual plants and trees, rather than managing forests or harvesting wood. An arborist’s scope of work is therefore distinct from that of either a forester or a logger.
Arborists gain qualifications to practice arboriculture in a variety of ways and some arborists are more qualified than others. Experience working safely and effectively in and around trees is essential. Arborists tend to specialise in one or more disciplines of arboriculture, such as diagnosis and treatment, climbing and pruning, cabling and lightning protection, or perhaps consultation and report writing. All these disciplines are related and some arborists are very well experienced in all areas of tree work.
Many arborists pursue formal certifications which vary slightly by location. An arborist who holds certification in one or more disciplines is expected to participate in continuing education requirements to ensure continuous improvement of skills and techniques.
In Australia arboricultural education and training are modernised countrywide through a multi-disciplinary vocational education, training, and qualification authority called the Australian Qualifications Framework, which offers varying levels of professional qualification.
Arborists can provide suitable solutions, such as pruning trees for health and good structure for aesthetic reasons or to keep them away from wires, fences and buildings. Timing and methods of treatment depend on the species of tree and the purpose of the work. To determine the best practices, a thorough knowledge of local species and environments is essential.
There can be a vast difference between the techniques of professional arborists and those of inadequately trained tree workers who simply “trim trees”. Some commonly offered services are considered improper by modern arboricultural standards and may seriously damage, disfigure or weaken trees. Trees that manage to survive such treatment are often left prone to a spectrum of detrimental effects, including vigorous but weakly attached regrowth, pest susceptibility and internal decay
Hiring an arborist is a decision that should be taken seriously. Proper tree care is an investment that can lead to significant returns. Well-cared-for trees are attractive and can add considerable value to your property. Pruning or removing trees, especially large trees, can be dangerous work. Tree work should be done only by those trained and equipped to work safely in trees.