ISA certified arborist, CTSP
So what is an arborist anyway? If you answered that with some degree of satisfaction, then maybe you can answer this: what is arboriculture?
Maybe I should start with a few things that arborists (those who are skilled in the art of Arboriculture) are NOT.
First of all, we are not tree trimmers. Trimming is something you do with a weed eater or to your finger nails. Arborists never trim, we prune. If someone says they want to trim your tree, extricate yourself from the conversation ASAP. I don't care if they have a really nice ladder that goes really high and they’ve been “cuttin” trees down for a really long time. Ladders are bad enough without a chainsaw… I digress.
Arborists are also not foresters. We don't clear cut large tracts of land to make money off the timber. True, we use some of the same tools, and yes, we can fell big trees with the best of them, but can the forester sneak that tall skinny maple between the garage and the fence? Maybe. Does he employ ropes, pulleys and working knowledge of geometry and physics to safely bring the specimen down without hitting nearby targets? Maybe, maybe not. These guys work in the woods. As long as they know where their buddies are before making that cut, its all good, right? And what if the tree cannot be felled from the ground? This is very often the case and scenarios we arborists see everyday. Has the forestry industry trained its workers to safely ascend the tree, dismantle it, lower it piece by piece to the ground over top of your brand new shingle roof, without anything but sawdust landing on it? I think not.
What I am getting at here is that Arboriculture and the men and women who make it happen out there every day are “specialists”, highly trained, highly motivated, intelligent, miracle workers. Not kidding.
Finally, we are not line clearance workers. These folks are trained to keep the utility lines free from impeding branches. They perform a valuable service, and here in the eastern deciduous forest region of North America, they are kept busy. True, the cuts on the trees are usually ragged, and the trees themselves often look like Edward Scissorhands had a bad day. This is for several reasons, First the folks doing the work are contracted to cut anything closer than 10’ from the line. Period. They are not trained in making proper pruning cuts because the goal here is not a beautiful healthy tree, it is to keep the lights on. Another reason is the species of tree growing under the lines. Planting a Norway Maple which has the genetics to grow 60-80 feet tall under a power line that is 40 feet off the ground is not advised. Pick a smaller variety. There are plenty to choose from.
So, next time you meet an arborist and you're tempted to ask if he works for Asplundh, maybe pass on that one. But, if you think to ask if he’s been in any cool trees lately, you will have a friend for life.