One of the frustrations I have felt during my career is that arboriculture often seems to be afforded less respect than industries such as engineering or architecture.
This is a difficult problem to resolve and is arguably becoming worse – the technical decisions of structural engineers are rarely subjected to public consultation, for example. If we are to challenge whatever preconceptions exist about our industry then we need to make the case for ourselves to be taken more seriously, and one way of doing that is through professional accreditation.
I had long been aware that the AA offered Chartered Environmentalist status but had never really considered working towards this goal. I had always thought that it wasn’t particularly relevant to me; whilst arboriculture could, of course, be regarded as an environmental discipline I would not describe myself as an environmentalist as such. Recently, however, there has been more overlap between my work and ‘environmental’ issues through my increased involvement in matters such as biodiversity, air quality, natural capital and sustainable drainage systems.,/p>
Partly in order to ensure that I wasn’t left behind in all of this, I made the decision to start the process of becoming Chartered with the AA. There are three parts to the process: application form, report and interview. In the application you must demonstrate how you meet the 12 competencies which the Society for the Environment requires of its members. These include aspects relating to management, strategic thinking and ethics. My examples largely came from either my day job or my work with the London Tree Officers Association (LTOA).
The report is in two parts: ‘career review’ and ‘competence’. The first element is exactly as it sounds – a reflective description of your time in the industry to date: your achievements, responsibilities and experiences. For the competency element I wrote a case study about my involvement in the work that the LTOA has been doing on Ceratocystis platani. The main thing I had to remember throughout the process of putting my application together was to describe all of this through an environmental, rather than solely arboricultural, perspective.
My application was successful and I was invited to an interview at AA headquarters in Stonehouse. In a demonstration of my commitment to environmental values I even walked to the Malthouse from home. The interview was very enjoyable and drilled down into my application to allow us to analyse in detail some of the points I had raised. After giving the interviewers some time to discuss my application I was delighted to return to the room to be told that I could now use the post-nominals CEnv.
I feel that it was well worth the effort of going through the application process for Chartership and I am very glad that I did so. Whilst this obviously hasn’t turned me into an environmental expert overnight it has certainly been useful when dealing with colleagues and the general public to be able to say that our team now includes a Chartered Environmentalist. I would recommend the CEnv route to anyone working in arboriculture who is keen to develop their professional standing and earn accreditation in another discipline.
Interested in chartered status?
Find out more at www.trees.org.uk/CEnv.
Article taken from The ARB Magazine Issue 184 Spring 2019. As a member you can view The ARB Magazine online, simply Log In and view the 'ARB Magazine' tab in your Account Area.