Arboriculture Association to survey tree officers over impact of austerity

The Arboriculture Association has launched a UK-wide survey of tree officers help understand the problems and pressures they face and how this might be adversely affecting trees and urban woodland.

The association will use the information to warn local and central Government of the potentially major consequences of diminished impartial expertise on urban forests and the wider environment.

"It is frequently the tree officer who demands the quality of information or workmanship that only professionals can provide", the AA said.

"If the regulatory and statutory role of the tree officer is reduced to the ticking of a box by an officer not qualified or experienced in arboriculture then the industry will suffer, and so will the trees that are so important to the wellbeing of the public and the environment as a whole."

The AA also noted that the Government's 2008 recommendation (made in its Trees in Towns II report) that each local authority should have at least one specialist tree officer (preferably qualified in arboriculture at higher education level) is now almost ten years old. This, it said, does not take account of the changing landscape in terms of how local authorities are delivering their services.

"In some cases services are being split and/or outsourced via PFIs (private finance initiatives) and other partnerships in an attempt to bridge the gap in funding.

"These situations could potentially lead to conflicts of interest or situations whereby the proper care of trees in our towns and cities is not at the centre of the decision-making process when it comes to their ongoing management," it added.

Tree officers have until the end of March (2017) to take part in the UK Wide Tree Officer Survey, which can be found on

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