Representation for arboriculture has never been more fragmented, hampering the profession across all levels, a leading adviser has said.
Myerscough lecturer Mark Johnston said: "Far from being a unified voice for arboriculture, industry representation has never been more fragmented. The process began in the 1990s when people broke away from the Arboricultural Association."
Johnston said bodies now included the International Society of Arboriculture, Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF), National Association of Tree Officers and regional groups.
Writing in an industry journal, he said the biggest damage was at Westminster level: "Who does the Government listen to when it seeks the views of the arboriculture industry?" which seems preoccupied with groups' "narrow interests and agendas".
He told Horticulture Week: "This has been going on for years. The ICF has asserted itself as the professional body and maybe the Arboricultural Association needs to address this."
ICF executive director Shireen Chambers said: "I agree on duplication and a weakened voice. The more we can work in partnership the better, but some groups are better than others at certain things.
"The Arboricultural Association is stronger than us on training and support for technical services. However, we already are the professional body for arborists. We are the UK's only chartered body that covers the sector.
Arboricultural Association director Nick Eden added: "The association is a home for everybody, from people without qualifications to those in research."
"The industry needs one voice. A fragmented approach waters down the efforts of those involved and the bodies they represent. But if we are to have a single unified voice it requires commitment, resources and willingness in equal measure. I do not think this is ever going to happen."
Simon Holmes, chartered arborist