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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arboricultural Association.

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ISA Certified Arborist training programme

Author:  Jim Mullholland
Last Updated:  21/06/2018

The ISA Certified Arborist certification has long been recognised as a valuable status for professionals wanting to make the transition from ‘tree surgeon’ to ‘arborist’. As my venerable colleague Paul Smith puts it, ‘a tree surgeon knows where and how to cut but an arborist knows why and what impacts the cut will have on the tree’.

Designed as a self-study certification, the standard way of achieving the Certified Arborist status is to buy the book, find time to read, learn the contents (as well as read around the subject) and then put yourself forward for an exam. Whilst this can be a flexible way of learning, it doesn’t suit everyone. The Certified Arborist training programme was devised to provide some structure and motivation for those who struggle to self-study.

Comprising six fortnightly classroom sessions the training programme covers all the topics required of a Certified Arborist. With 16 delegates booked, the training programme got underway in April with Andy Summerly of Tree Life AC at the helm. Known to many, Andy has a strong background in providing arboricultural training having worked in education for over 15 years. Living up to his reputation, Andy provided an engaging first session covering chapters 1 (tree biology) and 2 (tree identification) of the Arborists’ Certification Study Guide.

Whilst these topics are ones that I have covered numerous times through my biology and arboriculture qualifications, the day provided useful revision of some of the basic principles and terms. Even with level 6 qualifications in both Environmental Biology and Arboriculture, I came away having learned some new things. Evidently my understanding of the difference between excurrent and decurrent growth forms was not correct!

The beauty of these sessions is that they are not only an engaging place to learn, but Andy was able to talk around the topic, helping delegates step beyond the contents of the book – something required in the exam and real life. At the end of the day we were set homework to complete by the next session, the aim being to reinforce what was learnt in the classroom and hopefully make it stick in our memories.

The final sessions take place later this month with the exam on 14 July.

We plan to run the programme again later this year, so keep an eye here on the website and future issues of the ARB Magazine for further details.


Article taken from Issue 181 of the ARB Magazine.