Treat your service as a business, tree officer tells peers

Tree officers need to treat their service as a business with clients inside and outside their local authority in order to withstand current budget cuts, London Borough of Islington principal tree officer Andy Lederer told last week's National Tree Officers' Conference, organised by the Chartered Institute of Foresters (ICF).

Image: HW
Image: HW

The north London borough's iCo Green initiative "provides tree services from management consultancy through to public- and private-sector tree work", he said. "We have increased the number of tree officers and staff, and we are generating income and winning work to justify that."

Explaining the context of his work, he said: "We are trying to manage our tree stocks with less money and fewer people. Yet there is increased pest and disease pressure, and development pressure, which have a huge impact on trees. Any communal space in Islington is being built on."

In response, "There is a drive for us to generate income from the private sector, and that has been positive for us," he said, though this requires officers to consider their department as a business, with targets and resources to manage.

"How much does it cost to inspect a tree or answer a query? What is the value of your asset, in terms of storm water retention or health benefits? You can't value what isn't recorded. Put together a business case that you can take to budget holders. Are there other budgets you can tap into where you can demonstrate your value as a tree officer? We need to pre-empt change by providing solutions, not wait to be told your job or budget is being cut."

  • It was announced at the conference that Lederer will take over from outgoing ICF development director Russell Horsey from January. 

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