With the long history of forestry in BC, urban tree work on the West Coast can be confusing. Foresters, utility certified tree workers and ISA arborists carry different certifications and perform different services.
To better understand the difference between these tree workers it helps to look at the objectives of each.
Forestry workers specialize in clearing and maintaining large woodlots in a forest context with the objective of maximizing timber value. Though some skills are transferable to the urban environment (eg. removals), some techniques that are well suited to forestry (like topping and spiral pruning) can pose hazards when applied in an urban setting.
Utility certified arborists understand the dangers of working with electricity and focus on clearing vegetation around electrical wires using specialized equipment. The objective is hazard reduction and public safety.
To understand the expertise of an arborist, it is useful to know the definition of the word arboriculture:
The planting, care, and scientific cultivation of trees and woody vegetation in a non-forest context.
An ISA certified arborist’s objective is the integration of trees in the urban environment with a focus on tree health and preservation. Asking about the experience and training of anyone working on your trees will tell you if they can achieve your objectives.