Arboriculture and Arborists – An Introduction

As a certified arborist a large percentage of my day is answering questions – What tree should I plant, what is wrong with my tree, Etc. But on average the question I field the most is what is arboriculture? Although there are a plethora of definitions for arboriculture I prefer this simple one given by arboriculture is the art, science and practice of tree care. Arborists are the certified professionals that work within the field of arboriculture to care for and maintain trees in all its stages of growth and life.

Trees are amazing organisms with many complex systems working simultaneous to create, promote and sustain health and growth. Trees are constantly affected by both internal and external forces that dictate the trees health. Because of this Arborists need a vast knowledge base that includes botany, entomology(bugs) physics and soils to list just a few. Arboriculture encompasses all these fields and puts it in the context of tree health.

On occasion when explaining what I do for a living people will ask: so you cut down trees? Although Tree removal is an aspect of an arborists job, it certainly isn’t the only. I compare it to someone asking a dentist if all he/she does is pull teeth. Sure that’s one procedure preformed but primarily their work revolves around maintenance. Such is the case with arborists, the maintenance of trees for sustained health and safety is a key aspect while tree removal is necessary when that health and safety are in question.

The arboriculture industry in Canada is somewhat misunderstood. I believe this is due to our heritage as loggers and foresters. This country was partially built on the backs of loggers and its hard to see anyone working with trees as anything different. It comes as no surprise then that many see arboriculture and forestry as the same industry. Although a few tools and techniques span the two industries they are on the whole, quite different. Forestry is an industry focused on the health of a forest so as to harvest a crop; lumber. Arboriculture is focused on individual trees and the maintenance of health, proper growth and the safety of people and property.

I hope this article and the ones to follow will educate and enlighten you to the world of Arboriculture and trees, a world that has given me my career and passion. By educating the public about trees and their care we guarantee their prosperity in both a rural and urban setting due to more informed decisions regarding their care.