Building Bridges to Healthier Trees

Bob Skiera, Past ISA President and longtime Milwaukee City Forester, pioneer in building bridges, through urban forestry, people, professions, and policymakers.  image: ISA

Bob Skiera, Past ISA President and longtime Milwaukee City Forester, pioneer in building bridges, through urban forestry, people, professions, and policymakers.
image: ISA

How do we work to build bridges with other professions that make daily decisions about trees, but from different perspectives? As an association for tree care professionals, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) has a mission to promote the professional practice of arboriculture and cultivate a greater awareness of the benefits of trees worldwide. Research, technology, and education are the tools the arboriculture industry uses to advance the study and practice of tree care.

As a greater understanding of how essential trees are to our planet’s ecosystem develops internationally, arborists continue to expand their knowledge base for long-term maintenance of tree health from initial site and species selection to sustained care through maturity. The late Bob Skiera, former Milwaukee city forester and past ISA Board President stated, “The humble community tree that in the past was looked upon as an aesthetic nicety has now gained status as an ecological necessity.”

A community benefits when professions that have an impact on the urban forest collaborate to plan, plant, and care for trees with a far-sighted vision for their long-term health so that trees serve the community for longer periods of time. Arboriculture and landscape architecture are professions that view trees differently from a project perspective, but have common goals and gains for designing and cultivating a sustainable landscape. Understanding the objectives of each professional domain and sharing information is an essential part of what will make both professions relevant over time. And by integrating the professional languages of both fields to create a common language, communication and information-sharing can reach an even higher level.

Up By Roots, authored James Urban, FASLA, helps landscape architects better understand tree needs to improve their landscape designs and specifications, thereby creating longer-lasting landscapes and healthier trees. image: ISA

Up By Roots, authored James Urban, FASLA, helps landscape architects better understand tree needs to improve their landscape designs and specifications, thereby creating longer-lasting landscapes and healthier trees.
image: ISA

ISA has a strong interest in engaging other professions that work with trees in a networking and educational environment where different disciplines can contribute and share ideas. An example of this is the popular Up by Roots workshop presented by author Jim Urban, FASLA, who is a landscape architect himself. His training objective is to help other landscape architects better understand tree needs to improve their landscape designs and specifications, thereby creating longer-lasting landscapes and healthier trees. He also educates about the need for continued tree care by trained arborists after planting to assist in the development and maintenance of healthy, mature trees. In kind, arborists receive a clearer understanding of the landscape architect’s perspective and the factors that contribute to decisions made in the landscape design and approval process.

The ISA Annual International Conference and Trade Show, where everyone who cares for trees in all areas of practice comes together. image: ISA

The ISA Annual International Conference and Trade Show, where everyone who cares for trees in all areas of practice comes together.
image: ISA

One of the largest forums for such engagement is the ISA Annual International Conference, the premier educational event in the arboriculture industry and a valuable meeting ground for tree care professionals and those from different, but related, professions. At this year’s conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (August 2-6, 2014), former Milwaukee mayor John Norquist will provide the keynote presentation offering his extensive experience in various aspects of urban planning and development, which integrates the responsibilities and concerns of landscape architects, municipal arborists, city planners, researchers, educators, commercial arborists, and utility arborists, to name a few.

Over the years, ISA’s annual conference and other educational events have facilitated the exchange of research, new technologies, and improved tree care practices that are advancing the industry with the intended purpose of offering relevant information to all of the professions mentioned above. This meeting ground is helping to foster the fulfillment of that common language and a stronger collaboration in planning for the healthy future of our trees. As professionals move forward with an increased awareness of how the quality of their work impacts our environment, ISA looks forward to new opportunities for advancement and innovation that can be achieved through teamwork and shared knowledge among related professions.

by Janet Huber, Corporate Communications Manager, International Society of Arboriculture

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