The Role of Consulting Arborists in a Tree-Friendly Development


In this article, we will take a closer look at the vital role of consulting arborists when it comes to the tree preservation process.

Every arborist is not the same

Certified tree specialists or “Certified Arborists” means people who have a certain amount of work experience in this type of work. They might or might not hold a degree in this field, as well as passed a 200- question and entry-level multiple-choice examination that covers a wide variety of topics related to arboriculture.

A lot of these professionals include landscape contractors, architects, and gardeners. Urban foresters can be certified arborists, but not every certified arborist can be qualified to be a consultant. Consulting arborists are also a generic term.

It does not refer to specific credentials. But a lot of Certified Arborists are members of the American Society of Consulting Arborists or ASCA (well, at least most of the professionals in the United States). These professionals are called to solve complicated problems when it comes to trees and usually write specifications and reports. Tree Protection Plans for development projects are prevalent assignments for consulting arborists.

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Ask the help of professionals early and often

For an effective result, consultants need to visit the area during the planning stages, before drawing up the final design, and take inventory of trees. These professionals assess existing trees for hazard and health potential and do research which can be protected by state or local ordinances.

Some recommendations might come from initial site visits – there is no need to spend a lot of money and time protecting an infested, hazardous, or dead trees. These consultants can make design recommendations that are conducive to help preserve trees that are worth keeping or that need to be protected.

It is a lot easier to protect trees when the building and design process intrudes lightly in their canopy and roots. There is a time where these professionals are being called to different places like active construction sites on residential properties. Most, if not all, contractors wanted to preserve attractive trees in the site.

But some finalized designs might have some problems when it comes to the structural design. An excellent professional will tell contractors the best plan possible, even if it means to replant since most of its roots needs to be removed. Also, if it is mechanically propped up, too many fine feeder roots have already been destroyed for the plant to nourish by itself.

The restricted root area could not support enough plant roots for it to remain stable and healthy. Most contractors don’t want to hear that kind of answer. Most clients are very interested in preserving as many trees as possible on their properties.

In previous years, a lot of money had been spent in shaping and pruning plants and trees has been a centerpiece of every year. But most of the contractors had not consulted a specialist or arborist when it comes to designing and planning stages of the project.

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A few minutes with construction vehicles like a backhoe can kill trees

In addition to the pre-construction recommendation, consulting arborists needs to be very involved in the project from start to finish. Unforeseen problems usually pop up in the field – irrigation gets turned off, large roots can be found in places least expected, or conditions that can force changes in the design, methods, or means.

Initial TPP or Tree Protection Plan recommendations will lose impact as time goes by, and more subcontractors visit the area. Years of carefully planned tree preservation procedures can be undone in a couple of minutes using a backhoe.

When arborist visits the site regularly, a lot of unintended problems can be prevented. Only consultants have the awareness and historical knowledge about the trees, and the things that need to move forward. There are cities or states that have requirements for an arborist to check out the site regularly, or whenever the job takes place in a designated Tree Protected Zone.

If property owners’ plans do not include these site visits, they need to do so to get the best preservation results. Excellent communication between contractors and arborists is necessary for this kind of work – these professionals need to know when work is being done that can affect existing saplings.

Tips for hitting the right arborist

Hire an experienced arborist Who is bonded, insured, and, most importantly, licensed. Ask recommendations from co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family members. You can also check out the Internet or visit the Yellow Pages for any firms or individuals that have the right tools and experience to do the job done without any problems.

When people contact professionals or companies like Richmond Tree Care, find out if their resident arborists have the right certification from ISA or the International Society of Arboriculture. The International Society of Arboriculture certification demonstrates the willingness to keep updated with the arboriculture industry.

Some professionals are not certified, but they still abide by the pruning standards set by the Tree Care Industry Association. For example, Portland requires businesses to get a license or permit. Also, state law requires that contractors need to register with the State Construction Contractors Board.

Registering the company will guarantee that the professional is injured and bonded, protecting clients in case contractors they hire will damage their property or if there is a failure to finish the task. Do not let yourself get tricked by these so-called bargains.

Make sure to check with your friends, family members, co-workers, or neighbors for any recommendations. Also, take the time to solicit estimates from different certified professionals. At least two or more company estimates can be worth the additional effort, and a lot of experienced and reputable firms provide estimates that are free of charge.


The presence of consulting arborists on development projects does not guarantee success when it comes to tree preservation. It will take continuous collaboration between municipalities, owners, contractors, designers, and arborists before, during, and after the project, to keep the existing older trees stable and healthy. When everything is settled, and the finished structure is shaded, aesthetically pleasing, and private because of the existing old trees, all the work done with the project will have been worth it.


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