Preview 2009: Arboriculture

Local authority work the safest as domestic jobs dry up

Some arborists are expecting a tough year ahead as economic problems take a grip on the country.

Small firms specialising in domestic work are likely to be hardest hit. Within the industry it is widely accepted that householders are unlikely to do work on their trees if they are struggling to pay debts.

Managing director Jonathan Cocking of arboricultural consultancy JCA said: "We're already hearing about small firms that are putting their staff on four- and three-day weeks. They're just trying to stave off redundancies and stay in business."

Some parts of tree work are likely to be unaffected. Firms with large contracts for local authority work should be largely protected. Similarly, public utility companies - as well as organisations in charge of road and rail lines - will still need to ensure that their tree stocks are properly maintained and are not likely to put the public at risk.

Arboricultural Association director Nick Eden told HW: "Risk management is likely to be one of the few growth areas next year. The utility arb sector is growing and we're currently talking to the Department of Energy & Climate Change to discuss the way that the electricity firms handle their tree stocks."

Some have been badly hit by the downturn in the construction industry - and they expect the situation to get worse. Cocking said many consultants had done well out of advising developers on getting planning consent and creating tree strategies for large sites. "Most of the large developers have stopped getting in touch with us," he said.

However, some believe that the Government's commitment to environmental issues may force central and local government to spend more money on maintaining the tree stock.

Consultant Neville Fay of Treework Environmental Practice said: "People realise healthy trees protect the city. Large organisations will have to take trees more seriously."


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