Presentation will include a practical demonstration of tree climbing

Urban trees may be threatened by the pressures on tree officers

The Arboricultural Association will make a presentation to the All-Party Parliamentary Gardening and Horticulture Group (APPGHG) in Victoria Tower Gardens on Tuesday 18 July about the danger that pests and diseases present to the capital’s trees.

Speaking ahead of the presentation, Stewart Wardrop, chief executive of the Arboricultural Association, said, ‘Imagine London without its magnificent trees and the stark brutality of the remaining landscape if they were to disappear due to lack of professional care and the threat posed by pests and diseases’.

When the association recently completed a survey of UK tree officers employed by the 418 principal councils in the UK, of the 163 responses it received, 83 per cent of tree officers considered  that ongoing cutbacks had adversely affected their ability to do their job well.

The tree officers were also concerned that reduced training budgets and continued professional development (CPD) were having a detrimental affect on their ability to carry out their work effectively. This erosion results, they said, in an increasing number of local authorities having a lack of professional and impartial expertise at their disposal.

The keynote presentation to APPGHG will be given by John Parker, chair of the London Tree Officers Association, on the vital rôle of local authority tree officers, as highlighted in ‘Trees in Towns II’, a study commissioned and published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, which recommended that every council should have a tree officer.

Other presentations will be by Keith Sacre, the association’s chairman and director of Barcham Trees, on how the many benefits urban trees bring are now under threat, and by Dr Katherine Deeks, biosecurity officer at Forestry Commission England. She will outline the natural threats posed to trees and the strategy which can be employed to defeat such pests and diseases. The morning will also include a practical tree climbing demonstration by Josephine Hedger, an arboricultural contractor, trainer and three-times world tree climbing champion.

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