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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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Sheffield Street Trees - Arboricultural Association appeals for respect of arborists at work

  16/02/2017
Last Updated:  17/02/2017
The Arboricultural Association calls for a balanced debate following the recent controversy over the management of Sheffield street trees by Sheffield City Council, because the situation is now adversely affecting arborists working in the city.

It has come to our attention that the ongoing public outcry, caused by decision makers at Sheffield City Councils handling of the felling of street trees in the city, is, in some cases, negatively affecting arborists who are going about their lawful work.

Following feedback from our members and other tree care professionals in the area, it seems that the atmosphere in Sheffield towards local arborists has become increasingly toxic.

Some activists and protesters seem to be finding it difficult to distinguish between the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) main contractor Amey and a local tree contractor.  Arborists have been verbally abused in the street for felling trees and are often accused of being ‘tree butchers’; a local reputable and highly qualified arboriculturist was recently subjected to abuse and his company’s reputation called into question.
We feel there is a serious need for perspective within the debate, and the atmosphere towards local arborists needs to become less toxic. Sheffield’s street trees require a proper management plan, which may by necessity include felling trees.

The Arboricultural Association has contacted the Sheffield Tree Action Group (STAG) who have agreed with our sentiments and the need for perspective and a reasoned debate, which enables us to move forward from what appears to have been a poorly thought out and mismanaged PFI contract. As arboriculturists, we should be highlighting the folly of felling trees for engineering reasons alone, whist explaining the complexities of managing an urban forest.

Dave Dillner, Chairman of STAG, has kindly agreed to lend his support to our appeal for respect of local arborists. Dave wishes to make it clear that STAG do not advocate any type of abuse directed toward arborists and that any members found acting in this way will be expelled from the group:

“I ask that if anyone witnesses our members behaving in this way, please report it to me directly; we don’t want this type of unwarranted abuse and we’ll boot them out”.

It is important to remember that Sheffield has, and will continue to have, one of the largest tree populations within its boundary of any city in Europe.  It is in large part to the credit of the arboriculturists of Sheffield, including Amey’s, that it is in this position.  We must highlight the shortcomings of parts of the PFI contract whilst maintaining support for pragmatic Arboriculture and tree management in the city, aimed at improving and sustaining the city’s tree stock for generations to come.