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Importance of arboriculture and threats to London’s trees highlighted at parliamentary group’s Arb Association July event

“Imagine London without its magnificent trees and the stark brutality of the remaining landscape if they were to disappear due to lack of professional care and the threat posed by pests and diseases” is the clarion call from Stewart Wardrop, chief executive of the Arboricultural Association, ahead of its presentation to the All-Party Parliamentary Gardening and Horticulture Group (APPGHG) in Victoria Tower Gardens on Tuesday 18 July 2017 from 9.30am to 11.00am.

The Association recently completed a survey of UK tree officers. The aim was to assess the impact local authority funding constraints are having on the standard of tree care and the ability of tree officers to fulfil their roles. There are 418 principal councils in the United Kingdom. Of the 163 responses, 83 per cent of tree officers considered  ongoing cutbacks had adversely affected their ability to do their job well.

As regards the causes of this negative impact, 72 per cent felt a combination of reduced staff capacity and reduced support functions, such as administration and enforcement, had the greatest affect. Tree officers were also concerned that reduced training budgets and continued professional development (CPD) were having a detrimental affect on their ability to carry out their work effectively. This erosion results in an increasing number of local authorities having a lack of professional and impartial expertise at their disposal.

The keynote presentation will be given by John Parker, chair of the London Tree Officers Association, on the vital role of local authority tree officers, as highlighted in ‘Trees in Towns II’, a study commissioned and published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, which recommended that every council should have a tree officer.

Parliamentarians attending the event close to the Palace of Westminster will learn from the Association’s chairman and director of Barcham Trees Keith Sacre how the many benefits urban trees bring are now under threat, and how members of both houses can help the trees’ plight. Sacre will be joined by Dr Katherine Deeks, biosecurity officer at Forestry Commission England, to outline the natural threats posed to trees and the strategy which can be employed to defeat such pests and diseases. The morning will also include a practical tree climbing demonstration by Josephine Hedger, an arboricultural contractor, trainer and three-times world tree climbing champion.

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