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Tree inspection- insurance wants a "qualified tree surgeon"

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20 hours ago, daltontrees said:

Whatever happened to that sensible suggestion of raising it with the ABI?

 

I rather wish they'd just change the name to the ICFA and bring arb consultancy into a professional institute properly. Meanwhile the AA is  mainly on the contracting side but dabbles (not very convincingly) in the consulting side. 

 

Face it, we could sort this out easily but not enough people care, a few people would rather we don't and the public sure as hell doesn't know how badly it is being served sometimes.

Jules

You seem to be agreeing that there are a variety of words used to describe people who make a living out of trees and know something about trees & quite a bit of confusion? You suggest it is "easily" sorted out but I expect you have not tried to sort it out (I have!) and it is not at all easy. Lots of different views & people end up in different places, for a variety of different reasons as I tried to explain.

 

A letter to ABI? Crickey, if only it were so easy! Been there, done that. We tried to engage with the mortgage community when we revised the mortgage arboricultural course........the door would not open & they had no interest in what their members were doing, requesting or the sorts of things that arborists (for want of a better all inclusive word) get up to. Wouldn't even read any materials we sent.

 

& if you have an interest at what the ICF is doing about arboriculture you might want to open up your emails & see the special resolution at the forthcoming AGM. Forestry is to be redefined

 

current:

Our Charter and the Bylaws the expression “forestry” shall include all aspects of the science, economics, conservation, amenity and art of establishing, cultivating, protecting, managing, harvesting and marketing forests, woodlands, trees, timber and wood.

proposed:

Our Charter and the Bylaws the expression “forestry” shall include arboriculture and all aspects of the science, economics, conservation, amenity and art of establishing, cultivating, protecting, managing, harvesting and marketing forests, woodlands and trees for economic, environmental or social outcomes

 

So this might be viewed positively to reflect that the charter includes arboriculture or it could be viewed negatively so that "forestry" can be referred to instead of forestry & arboriculture. Take your pick

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2 hours ago, Jon Heuch said:

Jules

You seem to be agreeing that there are a variety of words used to describe people who make a living out of trees and know something about trees & quite a bit of confusion? You suggest it is "easily" sorted out but I expect you have not tried to sort it out (I have!) and it is not at all easy. Lots of different views & people end up in different places, for a variety of different reasons as I tried to explain.

 

A letter to ABI? Crickey, if only it were so easy! Been there, done that. We tried to engage with the mortgage community when we revised the mortgage arboricultural course........the door would not open & they had no interest in what their members were doing, requesting or the sorts of things that arborists (for want of a better all inclusive word) get up to. Wouldn't even read any materials we sent.

 

& if you have an interest at what the ICF is doing about arboriculture you might want to open up your emails & see the special resolution at the forthcoming AGM. Forestry is to be redefined

 

current:

Our Charter and the Bylaws the expression “forestry” shall include all aspects of the science, economics, conservation, amenity and art of establishing, cultivating, protecting, managing, harvesting and marketing forests, woodlands, trees, timber and wood.

proposed:

Our Charter and the Bylaws the expression “forestry” shall include arboriculture and all aspects of the science, economics, conservation, amenity and art of establishing, cultivating, protecting, managing, harvesting and marketing forests, woodlands and trees for economic, environmental or social outcomes

 

So this might be viewed positively to reflect that the charter includes arboriculture or it could be viewed negatively so that "forestry" can be referred to instead of forestry & arboriculture. Take your pick

I don't just seem to be agreeing, I am saying it, shouting it.

 

But I did say there are none so deaf...

 

I am going to take it up with the ABI. I might fail but I will persevere until it admits that it's not doing anything about it.

 

You have done me a favour. The ICF has bungled my email bulletins, I wondered why I ahd hear d nothing from it for a while. Hopefuilly it will send me the papers through shortly.

 

I am going to claim a small victory, I have been badgering ICF people for a couple of years about subsuming tree cosultancy into the ICF. I cornered a top guy at one of the dinners last year and made him promise to do something about it. I had been involved in changes at the RICS and I knew the right chat about privvy council and the like, it's a much more complex issue than the AA changing policy and besides I wouldn't let him go to the bar until he promised. Maybe enough people like me spoke to enough people like him...

 

Fair enough, it's not that easy but if we don't try we don't get. But it is easy to define the problem and design a solution. Getting buy-in is a different matter.

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19 hours ago, daltontrees said:

Jon/Paul/Paddy/Kevin/Boris, I'm going to let rip, becuase this is all farcical.

 

Firstly the insurers are to blame in this scenario, because they don't even know themselves what they want, they are unable to articulate it to an enquirer, but they're big boys and I have no sympathy whatsoever. Whatever happened to that sensible suggestion of raising it with the ABI?

Kind of agree, if the entity 'asking' for the report is unable to properly articulate what it is they want, why they want it and therefore what its parameters should be...  Then really, they shouldn't be surprised if they don't get what they want.

19 hours ago, daltontrees said:

 

 A lot of tree surgeons also fancy their chances doing tree reports, like it's some sort of lucrative soft option (which it is if you do it shittily).

Are you advocating the purely academic pathway into "consultancy" for want of a better word then Jules?  There are some obvious and real workplace difficulties with that approach.  The debate was played out quite well in the recent AA webinar where Mr Barrell suggested that progressing from practical experience (in the trees) and then onwards to "consultancy" was a desirable progression route - and just about all the others (who, coincidentally, hadn't taken the practical route seemed to adopt the purely academic route as the preferred option.  

 

The difficulty with purely academic "consultants" (as with many other trade 'surveyors') may be that they simply don't have a grasp of the practical implications of achieving the recommendations they are proposing.  2 very recent examples - a contractor pal turned up to implement the tree report recommendations of a surveyor only to find that (a) some of the trees simply were not where they were recorded on the site plan and (b) some of the recommendations (albeit QTRA qualified) where absolutely unjustifiable seemingly illogical, and apparently entirely counter to the QTRA methodology.  The second example I'd set out is that of a TO suggesting a 2m height reduction for TPO'd trees adjacent to a building - the actual effort  (time = cost) of achieving this far exceeded the rationale for doing it.  Granted, that's only 2 examples but perhaps supports the case that to be a surveyor with absolutely no practical experience can certainly have its pitfalls.  Bit of an aside, but I've had the same in other trades - double glazing 'surveyor' set out the costs associated with a job and the time to fit at the quote stage - lads turn up to actually do the job and it was clearly apparent that the 'surveyor' has comprehensively underestimated the time / resources (cost) required.  Not my problem - contract was signed.

 

As for 'tree surgeons' doing tree reports - might not be the path for some, but that's not to say the 2 are mutually exclusive.  Neither, IMHO, are reporting AND contracting mutually exclusive.  I'd go so far as to say, in many circumstances, they are actually complimentary and there is only a 'conflict' if the proposed operational work is anything other than unbiased, professional recommendations as laid out in the report.

 

19 hours ago, daltontrees said:

 

 

So the public are set up to be disappointed or fooled a lot of the time. They want free tree advice from someone who only makes his living out of charging people for tree work, so they get a tree surgeon out. Who might have bought his first chainsaw form B&Q half an hour earlier. Tree surgeon! Sounds so fancy! Must know what he's talking about.

You pays your money, you takes your chance.  Cheapest is not always best value but where someone wants cheap they can suffer the consequences at their leisure.

19 hours ago, daltontrees said:

 

There has been a trend recently to grab at the title of arborist, but into this murky arena wanders the consulting arborist, and like most notions imported from america it's thoroughly unhelpful in a UK context.

Agree your point about calling it what people naturally think it is.  

19 hours ago, daltontrees said:

 

You either pay someone for advice and they are compelled to avoid conflicts of interest by not also being allowed to quote for tree work coming from their recommendations, or you accept that you are getting free verbal advice from a contractor that's not truly impartial and don't expect it to stand up to close scrutiny in a courtroom battle a year later. 

I don't consider it a conflict if a report proposes work which is then quoted for.  The report details what is required regardless of who will actually do it.  

19 hours ago, daltontrees said:

 

Face it, we could sort this out easily but not enough people care, a few people would rather we don't and the public sure as hell doesn't know how badly it is being served sometimes.

It's for the 'customer' to decide who / where they want to spend their money.  Just like any other walk of life. If they cut corners, make a bad choice, fail to appreciate the complexities, that's on them.

19 hours ago, daltontrees said:

 

As for using 'tree surgeon' instead of 'arboriculturist' that's like saying a pharmacist is a drug dealer, a physicist is a mechanic, a geologist quarries rocks, etc. etc. You're wither adising on what needs to be done, with your hands in your own pockets, or you're doing routine stuff or under orders.

Tree reports are not exactly 'difficult' if you can read.  Some 'tree surgeons' are perfectly well capable of producing reports that absolutely would stand the test of a courtroom.  Similarly, there is a parallel in the architect / architectural consultant domain.  Architect is a chartered profession whereas architectural consultant is someone that can draw and produce plans.  They both ply the same trade and it is for the customer to decide if they want the real deal or the "talks, walks, looks' like an architect but can't actually use the stand alone term - architect.

 

 

 

   

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 😀Kevin, how am I expected to have an argument with you when you're being this reasonable?😀

 

I've done my time up trees. It showed me just how much strength trees often have to spare and how ridiculous some of the college-boy risk assessments are. There's no doubt it has made me a better consultant, and I can still pick up a chainsaw by the right end.

I could literallly write a book of examples of how spectacularly incompetent or biased some of the tree surgeons reports I have seen and been involved with are. That's not to say all tree surgeons' reports are bollocks, but a fair few of them seem to be, and there is a general overemphasis on the tree hazards and absence of understanding that for risk surveys, it is risk they are assessing in which targets and severity are just as important as hazards.

The recent Barrell/Koeser online seminar was interesting, and the Florida study was especially telling. Risk assessors that had undergone formal training in risk asssessment for trees were 6 times less likely to recommend works. That's 5 in 6 less customers put to the needless expense and loss of amenity of tree works.

I don't mind tree surgeons doing reports as long as they have some basic qualifications and are clear that they are acting as consultant. I don't wear the argument that long experience is a substitute. Both training (for focus, context and purpose) and experience are needed. Yeah, doing reports with lots of quals and no experience is just as bad.

This year alone I have been pulled in on 3 cases that have hit the Planning buffers because the original BS survey by a tree surgeon (and one by landscape arcitects) was found to be so wanting that the Councils have dug their heels in and it is costing the client sorely. A council near here has knocked back a 5837 report completely because of the lack of competence of the surveyor. Another Council has demanded a report that is so meaningless it took a half hour meeting for it to realise then accept that what it had asked for was not what it needed. The officers were planners, in an authority that has no TO.

What it really comes down to for me is that tree surgeon is a bullshit term that says nothing and promises everything. Tree surgeons love to call their customers 'clients'. The industry is so foggy about roles and competences that (and to bring it back to the original post) we shouldn't really be surprised that insurers can't figure out who is needed for what.

I'd disagree with you till the end of time that customers should be allowed to choose between cheap/cheerful and competent and should be free to make mistakes. As long as we allow our landscapes to be denuded needlessly and for con-men to talk customers into expensive unnecessary works and worthless shelf-filling reports we will remain an industry rather than a profession. The consequences of bad advice are felt by all of society, not just by the victim.

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11 minutes ago, daltontrees said:

 😀Kevin, how am I expected to have an argument with you when you're being this reasonable?😀

 

I've done my time up trees. It showed me just how much strength trees often have to spare and how ridiculous some of the college-boy risk assessments are. There's no doubt it has made me a better consultant, and I can still pick up a chainsaw by the right end.

I could literallly write a book of examples of how spectacularly incompetent or biased some of the tree surgeons reports I have seen and been involved with are. That's not to say all tree surgeons' reports are bollocks, but a fair few of them seem to be, and there is a general overemphasis on the tree hazards and absence of understanding that for risk surveys, it is risk they are assessing in which targets and severity are just as important as hazards.

The recent Barrell/Koeser online seminar was interesting, and the Florida study was especially telling. Risk assessors that had undergone formal training in risk asssessment for trees were 6 times less likely to recommend works. That's 5 in 6 less customers put to the needless expense and loss of amenity of tree works.

I don't mind tree surgeons doing reports as long as they have some basic qualifications and are clear that they are acting as consultant. I don't wear the argument that long experience is a substitute. Both training (for focus, context and purpose) and experience are needed. Yeah, doing reports with lots of quals and no experience is just as bad.

This year alone I have been pulled in on 3 cases that have hit the Planning buffers because the original BS survey by a tree surgeon (and one by landscape arcitects) was found to be so wanting that the Councils have dug their heels in and it is costing the client sorely. A council near here has knocked back a 5837 report completely because of the lack of competence of the surveyor. Another Council has demanded a report that is so meaningless it took a half hour meeting for it to realise then accept that what it had asked for was not what it needed. The officers were planners, in an authority that has no TO.

What it really comes down to for me is that tree surgeon is a bullshit term that says nothing and promises everything. Tree surgeons love to call their customers 'clients'. The industry is so foggy about roles and competences that (and to bring it back to the original post) we shouldn't really be surprised that insurers can't figure out who is needed for what.

I'd disagree with you till the end of time that customers should be allowed to choose between cheap/cheerful and competent and should be free to make mistakes. As long as we allow our landscapes to be denuded needlessly and for con-men to talk customers into expensive unnecessary works and worthless shelf-filling reports we will remain an industry rather than a profession. The consequences of bad advice are felt by all of society, not just by the victim.

Brilliant! Love it 😂

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16 hours ago, daltontrees said:

I don't just seem to be agreeing, I am saying it, shouting it.

 

I am going to claim a small victory, I have been badgering ICF people for a couple of years about subsuming tree cosultancy into the ICF. I cornered a top guy at one of the dinners last year and made him promise to do something about it. I had been involved in changes at the RICS and I knew the right chat about privvy council and the like, it's a much more complex issue than the AA changing policy and besides I wouldn't let him go to the bar until he promised. Maybe enough people like me spoke to enough people like him...

Jules

I am not clear what you are saying & if you are not agreeing,  you must be disagreeing.....I am just not clear what it is you are disagreeing with!

 

"subsuming tree consultancy into the ICF": I am not at all clear what you are talking about here - arboriculture has been in the ICF since the beginning; the ICF has had a registered consultant scheme for a number of years. I started paying them £50 +VAT a year years ago (10? maybe more). Their website for this service is crap; nothing else to call it. They know it is (& have had plenty of the likes of  you telling them for a number of years) & they are in the process of rectifying it. They held two focus group sessions before Christmas to get suggestions on what needs to be done & I hope it will improve sometime in 2021. So anything further you say will be knocking at the proverbial open door......

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Come now, lack of agreement does not imply disagreement in any matter! I know it's hard to understand this in a polarised society. That said, I thought I was clear. You asked "You seem to be agreeing that there are a variety of words used to describe people who make a living out of trees and know something about trees & quite a bit of confusion?" I agreed. I agree.

 

In a nutshell I am lamenting the lack of public-facing coherent distinctions and separations between (i) tree professionals as contractors and tree professionals as consultants and (ii) tree professionals and cowboys/bluffers/charlatans; the lack of clearly understood terminology and indentity of disciplines is partly the cause, doubly so because it is exploited.

 

I know very well the ICF covers arb, but it doesn't really, does it? Otherwise the charter changes wouldn't be needed, would they?

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11 hours ago, kevinjohnsonmbe said:

Are you advocating the purely academic pathway into "consultancy" for want of a better word then Jules?  There are some obvious and real workplace difficulties with that approach.  The debate was played out quite well in the recent AA webinar where Mr Barrell suggested that progressing from practical experience (in the trees) and then onwards to "consultancy" was a desirable progression route - and just about all the others (who, coincidentally, hadn't taken the practical route seemed to adopt the purely academic route as the preferred option.  

 

Tree reports are not exactly 'difficult' if you can read.  Some 'tree surgeons' are perfectly well capable of producing reports that absolutely would stand the test of a courtroom.     

The basic problem is thinking that there is something called "consultancy"; you have to be a consultant in something. There are few people that can handle everything that is covered by the word "arboriculture".  You can get a job as a "consultant" with no experience! Some disciplines are are worse than others - ecology for example. Clearly, if as an arboricultural consultant you are specifying works to be undertaken by a tree surgeon it does help a lot if you have some experience of tree surgery! If you are specifying time and money, even more essential to have real experience of what it takes.

 

I don't think it helps by using labels such as "academic". There are virtually no academics in arboriculture! A good consultant has both experience and relevant training; preferably the training comes before the experience, as the experience brings a lot of learning too, building on concepts and background skills developed during training but those with experience can gain a lot from training but it may be harder to learn if you've lost the skills to learn from books and writing essays etc.

 

Consultants (of any background) with no or little relevant experience can cause problems; my classic one, provided to me in fiver Lever Arch files shortly before mediation which cost the insurance company not much less than £300k was a tree surgeon telling a tree owner that their property might suffer from heave......oh dear. I wonder how little experience of heave he had, but luckily for him he was not sued as we just dismissed his report as sub-professional. Unfortunately, the tree owner had not done the same.

 

Tree surgeons in a court? Depends in what capacity. As a witness of fact, no problem, just as any member of the public might need to do. As an expert witness? I would steer any tree surgeon to appropriate training prior to this, even if they are reporting on an area (such as a work place accident) they know well. If they move onto risk assessment, valuation, subsidence, soil mechanics (e.g. heave) or a whole range of arboricultural subject areas they know nothing about (no training, no experience) they should not even think about it. The simple answer when approached is No!

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5 minutes ago, daltontrees said:

In a nutshell I am lamenting the lack of public-facing coherent distinctions and separations between (i) tree professionals as contractors and tree professionals as consultants and (ii) tree professionals and cowboys/bluffers/charlatans; the lack of clearly understood terminology and indentity of disciplines is partly the cause, doubly so because it is exploited.

 

I know very well the ICF covers arb, but it doesn't really, does it? Otherwise the charter changes wouldn't be needed, would they?

Well, agreed, but at the same time I am happy for tree surgeons to venture into "consultancy" provided they have the necessary experience and training and know what they are doing to produce reports of adequate quality. They need to know where they should not venture (i.e. where they are not competent). Professional bodies can assist the public in such differentiation & explaining and marketing those differences. But they don't help too much in explaining that a tree surgeon who can provide an adequate BS5837 tree survey for a domestic property may not be able to cover much more complex projects. Ah, but they are practising this magical art of "consultancy" (which is just a contractual arrangement in these modern business times, not a grade or mark of distinction) so they can do everything "consultancy". No they can't, & no I can't.

 

The ICF is very Scotland focused and very forestry focused; it's trying it's best not to be, but is.

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In reply to John comments, who I hold in very high regard,

 

Yes , go on training  courses get experience, but make sure you have insurance that covers you for subsidence surveys reporting. As ever people want a cheap report, but it is not worth the risk if you if you are not trained in that specilaist area,

 

CAS - Consultiing Arborist Society will be running courses soon, other providers are available too, do not undertake these specialist reports without training,you have been warned.!The more you say with out knowing what you are saying will trip you up, as John rightly says. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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