What are the levels of an arborist?

We strongly recommend that any work that requires a chain saw or that cannot be done from ground level be done by a professional tree care service or an arborist. Arbalists care for individual trees while foresters manage tree populations.

What are the levels of an arborist?

We strongly recommend that any work that requires a chain saw or that cannot be done from ground level be done by a professional tree care service or an arborist. Arbalists care for individual trees while foresters manage tree populations. For example, a forester may be responsible for managing a forest or a grove for the production of wood or other wood products. The forester will make decisions about when and how to plant and harvest trees to meet their management objectives.

Urban foresters manage the population of public trees in a community to maximize the benefits that trees provide while minimizing the inherent risk of living near these trees. A municipal forester would be an urban forester who works for a particular town or city that manages public tree resources in that municipality. This would include trees in parks and other public green spaces, as well as street trees and trees that grow on other municipal rights of way. An arborist generally focuses on caring for individual trees, often on private property.

Arbalists can be divided into two broad categories: practicing arbalists and consulting arborists. A practicing arborist, also known as a commercial arborist, is the type of tree care provider that many people first think of when they hear the word arborist. A practicing arborist can offer tree care services such as pruning, planting, removal, pesticide application and fertilization. The ISA Certified Master Arborist (BCMA) is the highest level of certification offered by the ISA.

This credential recognizes individuals who have reached the pinnacle of their profession. In addition to passing a comprehensive scenario-based exam, candidates must comply with a Code of Ethics. Less than two percent of all ISA-certified arborists are currently BCMA certified. Consultant arbalists differ from practicing arbalists in that they are, as their name suggests, primarily consultants.

Consultant arbalists make recommendations on tree care to improve tree health and safety. Many homeowners and property managers hire a consulting arborist when they require an independent expert opinion on tree care issues. A practicing arborist can also make recommendations about tree care, often as part of a free quote, but since the practicing arborist often also offers to do the recommended work, some may consider this arrangement a potential conflict of interest. In addition to providing general tree care recommendations, consulting arbalists can offer tree value appraisals, tree risk assessments, expert witness testimony, and litigation support services for attorneys, insurance companies, homeowners and managers of properties.

Plunkett, BCMA, is an independent consulting arborist with 14 years of experience in the fields of arboriculture and urban forestry. He is an expert diagnostician with extensive experience in the areas of tree health care, tree risk assessment and evaluation of the value of trees. Plunkett has distinguished himself in his profession by earning the highly respected credentials of an ISA-certified master arborist and a New Jersey certified tree expert. You are also qualified for the Tree Risk Assessment.

Plunkett graduated from Pennsylvania State University and has a degree in urban forestry. He is a member of the International Arboriculture Society and the American Society of Consulting Arbalists. ISA certified arboretum examines a Japanese hemlock at the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Oregon. This certification was recently suspended by the ISA, as they restructure the exam.

However, there are many BCMAs. The original BCMA exam was scenario-based and required advanced knowledge of trees and good professional judgment. There is no study guide and 7 years of experience are required to take the exam. Due to a lack of study materials and complex continuing education requirements, some certified arborists and consultants (including this author) have not converted to BCMA, but this may change when the new exam is published.

Most, if not all, consulting arbalists are ISA-certified arborists and many are members of the American Society of Consulting Arbalists (ASCA). To become an ASCA member, one must have at least five years of arboriculture experience and a minimum of four years (or the equivalent) in arboriculture or a closely related field. Instead of a degree, ASCA members must be certified arborists with a minimum of 240 CEUs. This is how I became an ASCA member.

You can further evaluate an arborist's qualifications by reviewing their curriculum vitae (CV), references, or even work samples when possible. The reports and the product of the work done for others may be confidential depending on the task. Some municipalities may have other requirements. It's worth noting that the terms arborist and tree expert aren't always regulated at the state or municipal level, and in New Jersey, anyone who chooses to work with trees can currently call themselves an arborist or tree expert and advertise their company as XYZ Tree Expert Company.

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Megan Castellani
Megan Castellani

Lifelong tv practitioner. General beer enthusiast. Professional coffee advocate. Infuriatingly humble gamer. Devoted pop culture lover.

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