The AA was founded in 1964 as a scientific and educational organisation, keen to promote the care and value of trees in no forest settings. The passion for trees shown by our founders then continues to exist in our Board and members today. Trees make a difference to the world in which we live. To our health, our well-being and our environment.

Our timeline 


Founding of the AA

AA Founders in 1964

Following initial discussions between Keith Ross, Don Wells and other interested parties, the Arboricultural Association is formed in 1964. That same year, The Association of British Tree Surgeons and Arborists (ABTSA) is also formed.


First publications

First AA Journals first published in 1965

Issue 1 of Volume 1 of The Arboricultural Association Journal published May 1965.

British Standards and TPO documents.

AA is involved in developing new tree-related standards and documents including BS3936:1965 Nursery Stock - Trees and Shrubs; BS3998:1966 ‘Recommendations for Tree Work’ and BS4043:1966 Semi-Mature Trees. The first AA Advisory Leaflet ‘Tree Preservation Orders’ is also published.


ABTSA organise first conference

ABTSA organise first Arboricultural Annual Conference 1967

ABTSA organise first Arboricultural Annual Conference and Seminar at Merrist Wood College, near Guildford, attended by around 80 people.


First full-time lecturer appointed

Peter Bridgeman appointed the country’s first full-time lecturer 1968

Peter Bridgeman appointed the country’s first full-time lecturer in arboriculture and sets up ten week Tree Surgery for Craftsman course. Additional one and three-year full-time courses follow over next three years.


Launch of professional accreditation

The AA’s Register of Consultants was launched 1971

The AA’s Register of Consultants was launched, followed later by the Directory of Approved Contractors.


Dutch Elm Disease

Dutch Elm Disease ravages millions of the elm population.


Specialist equipment

Honey Brothers begin to sell specialist tree surgery equipment.


Fruitful time

The early 1970s is a fruitful time for arboricultural education and research with two further courses launched at Merrist Wood College (1-year Arboriculture and 3-year OND Arboriculture), the formation of a Standing Committee on arboricultural education, and a Standing Committee on arboricultural research, the latter charied by Professor Fred Last.


Plant a Tree in 73

Plant a Tree in 73

Plat a Tree in 73’ campaign. Department of the Environment National Tree Planting Year begins which includes a conference exploring ‘The Role of Trees in the Environment’.


AA and ABTSA merge

At the Arboricultural Annual Conference at Merrist Wood College, the AA and ABTSA formally merge to become the ‘new’ AA incorporating ABTSA. Don Wells reports that the Scottish Branch has been very active since 1971. Don Wells reports “A register of Consultants has been drawn up and well established” and that AA involved in preparartion of Bristish Standards for ‘Extra Heavy Trees’ and ‘Tree Roots and Construction’.

Tree Council founded 1974

Tree Council founded


Arb research empowered

Derek Patch 1975

Arboricultural research is empowered with the establishment of the Arboricutural Advisory and Information Service, based at the Forestry Commission Research Station in Farnham. Derek Patch is the lead researcher for the new service.


Sad loss of an AA founder

Don Wells dies 1975

Don Wells, the AA founder chairman and champion of British arboriculture dies.



A drought year across the UK triggers heathland fires and large tree losses.


Tree Surgery published

Tree Surgery published 1977

Tree Surgery by Peter Bridgeman is one of the first specialist books on modern arboriculture is published.


Growth in Tree Officers

The 1970s saw a growth in local authority tree officer posts and by the end of the decade arboricultural education is being taught at colleges across the country.


First BS5837

AA involved in the development of the first ‘BS5837: 1980 trees on Development Sites’.


The changing face of tree care

Alex Shigo, biologist and plant pathologist with the United States Forest Service changes the face of tree care with his research into tree compartmentalisation. His book ‘Modern Arboriculture’ is published.


On the move

AA headquarters, Ampfield 1981

The AA moves to new headquarters at Ampfield House, Romsey, home of Hillier Nurseries.


AA logo launched

AA logo with ABTSA suffix launched 1981

A new AA logo is launched with ABTSA suffix.


Do I need a computer?

Do I need a computer?’ by R J Fowler is presented at Conference and appears in the Arboricultural Journal.

Computerisation moves ahead

Computerised street tree inventory and management sytems begin to be developed.


First AA Award given

The first AA Award to Dr Tom Hall 1983

The first AA Award for services to arboricuture is made to Dr Tom Hall. The award is presented at the Annual Arboricultural Conference in Southampton.


The Great Storm!

A violent storm with strong winds 1987

1987 saw a violent storm with winds up to 100mph hitting the UK. It flattens around 15 million trees across the Bristish Isles. The South East of England is worst affected.


Arboricultural Safety Council established

Arboricultural Safety Council established 1989

Trevor Preston is the first chair of the newly established Arboricultural Safety Council.


Safety guide published

The Arboricultural Safety Council publishes ‘ASC1: Tree Climbing Operations Safety Guide’.


ISA launches UK/Ireland chapter

Launch of the International Society of Arboriculture UK/Ireland chapter 1992

1991 saw the launch of the International Society of Arboriculture UK/Ireland chapter.


Claus Mattheck translated to English

Claus Mattheck translated to English 1992

Claus Mattheck’s research into tree mechanics is translated into English and ‘The Body Language of Trees’ is published as part of the Department of the Environment Reaserch for Amenity Trees series.


Tree Advice Trust

Tree Advice Trust operating the AAIS is launched.


Inauguration of EAC

Inaugural meeting of EAC 1993

The inaugural meeting of the European Arboricultural Council.


First AA Technical Director

First AA Technical Director, Jonathan Hazell, appointed 1995

The AA appoints Jonathan Hazell as it’s first Technical Director.


Formative time

Local Government Tree Officers Group formed and later the AA forms the first Utilities Group.


Key book launched

The key arboricultural text ‘Principles of Tree Hazard Assessment and Management’ by David Lonsdale is published. 1999

The key arboricultural text ‘Principles of Tree Hazard Assessment and Management’ by David Lonsdale is published.


Councils expand arboricultural staff

By the start of 2000 all district and borough councils have arboricultural staff amd specialist offices for Planning, TPOs, tree maintenance and planting.


World Pole Climbing Champion

Jeremy Barrell becomes World pole Climbing Champion for the 4th time 2004

2004 saw Jeremy Barrell becomes World pole Climbing Champion for the 4th time.


New online qualification

The first online BSc (Hons) in Arboriculture is offered at Myerscough College.


Father of modern arboriculture dies

Dr Alex Shigo dies 2006

Dr Alex Shigo, recognised as the father of modern arboriculture, dies.


More staff and a reunion

Reunion of past AA Chairmen in 2008

The AA now has nine staff, including three technical officers.

Later in the year sees a reunion of past AA Chairs


A change of location

After nearly 30 years at Ampfield House the AA moves in to a temporary office at Ullenwood Court in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.


Website relaunced

The AA relaunches its website, offering online directories of ARB Approved Contractors and Registered Consultants.


Another move

AA move to The Malthouse 2012

Following the refurbishment of new office space, the AA moves into its prestigious permanent headquarters at The Malthouse, Stroud Green, Gloucestershire.


Chalara ash dieback hits

Chalara ash dieback 2013

Biosecurity has become the watch word. Chalara ash dieback emerges as a real threat to native ash trees. Other new and potentially damaging pests and diseases, possibly as a result of climate change, continue to threaten UK trees.


AA celebrates 50 years

AA celebrates 50 years in 2014

2014 see the Fiftieth anniversary of the Arboricultural Association. A celebratory logo is issued and a number of events are held.



Updated AA logo 2015

In combination with organisational changes the AA launches a new website with enhanced functionality allowing it's members more control.

Alongside these momentous changes a new logo is developed for both corporate marketing and the professional schemes.

As an Association we do not receive any government funding but rely on our members, sponsors and other charitable trading operations to make our work possible.


A HISTORY OF THE AA A presentation given by Peter Wharton at the 2014 AA National Amenity Conference, celebrating 50 years of the Association. The Association has seen many changes and continues to grow…