By Sergio De Lara
An Arborist by definition is a specialist in the care and maintenance of trees. More specifically, an arborist is a professional in Arboriculture: the cultivation, management, and study of individual trees, shrubs, and woody plants. (This differs from Silviculture, which is the same practice applied to forests as opposed to individual trees)
Arborists are knowledgeable about tree biology and physiology. They are aware of the needs of trees and are trained to provide adequate care. A tree that is well cared for will not only be attractive and add aesthetic value to your property, but also provide functional benefits such as filtering air and preventing erosion, among others.
On the other hand, trees that are neglected or poorly maintained can become anything from a nuisance to a significant liability. An arborist can also determine when a tree can no longer be maintained and should be removed. Reasons for this include: health, structural concerns or safety, among others that may impact long-term viability.
Tree work itself is dangerous and should be done only by professionals trained, equipped and experienced to do so safely. Pruning or removing trees, especially large ones around buildings, vehicles and wires present special challenges and can be extremely dangerous. If you know someone who thinks they could “just do it themselves”, have them Google tree cutting fail or chainsaw kickback to help them reconsider. (WARNING: graphic images)
Like several industries, the tree care industry in Ontario is not regulated. Hence it is up to the individuals practicing tree care to become independently certified. The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is a non-profit professional organization that certifies arborists worldwide. ISA Certified Arborists must keep current of the tree care industry and participate in educational seminars every year to maintain certification. They are governed by the Certified Arborist Code of Ethics, which links them with principles of professional conduct and industry standards. ISA credentials are valued and trusted because they let consumers know that you possess a high degree of knowledge about caring for and maintaining trees.
Services that Arborists can provide:
An arborist can determine the type of pruning necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance, and safety of trees. Pruning techniques are used to maintain proper structure in young trees, improve tree shape or form, and reduce the likelihood of future damage during storm events. They can also include removing limbs that:
- Have been damaged by storms
- Are dead, weak, or decayed and pose unacceptable risk
- Are diseased or insect-infested
- Interfere with utilities or structures
- Obstruct streets or sidewalks
- Will increase light penetration and reduce wind resistance
An arborist can help decide whether a tree should be removed. Different municipalities across the GTA have different rules and requirements regarding Tree Removals in their jurisdiction. Removal is recommended when the tree is:
- Dead or dying
- Considered a hazard or risk
- An obstruction that is impossible to correct through pruning
- Causing harm to other, more desirable trees
- To be replaced by a more suitable specimen
- Located in an area where new construction requires removal
Aside from planting trees, Arborists can recommend species appropriate for particular locations. The wrong tree in the wrong location could lead to future problems as a result of limited growing space, insects, diseases, or poor growth.
- Soil aeration to improve root growth
- Cabling (bracing) for support to trunks or branches with weak attachments
- Fertilization and soil modification for improved tree health
- Consulting and legal expert services relating to trees
Once you have decided that you do require a Certified Arborist, the next step is selecting your arborist.