Martin Gammie discusses how we can work with other disciplines to achieve a sustainable urban treescape
Last month we considered the need to change the way we engage with our clients and how this might influence
the effectiveness of the services we provide. Now I want venture beyond the world of arboriculture.
I have given presentations at seminars and conferences to audiences from a variety of disciplines with the aim of disseminating the principles and best practice the Trees and Design Action Group (TDAG) is promoting.
I often suggest we spend too much time talking to each other, preaching to the converted. This could be said of most professions. We are all comfortable engaging with our peers but I feel arboriculturists are particularly good at this and it’s time to proactively engage with other disciplines.
The complexity of the urban realm and ever increasing demands on its space mean we can no longer work in isolation if we are to deliver sustainable integrated infrastructure. The latest TDAG publication ‘Trees in Hard Landscapes’ commits some 34 pages, to ‘Collaborative Process’ stating: “Success with trees in hard landscapes requires a collaborative, cross disciplinary process from project initiation through to design, implementation, maintenance and monitoring.”
We all have a role to play
There are some commonly perceived constraints on the delivery of sustainable treescapes and high quality Green
Infrastructure (GI) These include:
● Developers reneging on GI delivery once they have planning permission
● Highways engineers being antitrees
● Utility firms destroying trees
● Local government cuts
● Short term political agendas
● Urban landscape design lacking appropriate specialist input
● Potentially high value projects failing to secure the budgets to make them sustainable
● NIMBY approaches to trees.
These may be real constraints but it is down to us to overcome them because no one else will do it for us. Most of the points above suggest there are ‘others’ standing in our way, be they professions, politicians or those in charge of the purse strings.
Engagement with these people may not sit comfortably and may require a change in the way we think and operate as professional arboriculturists. Some proven ways to effect positive change are:
● A proactive approach: making the first move to develop better working relationships with other disciplines
● Two way engagement process: be familiar with the priorities of other disciplines. Understand what makes them tick and suggest mutually beneficial ways of working
● Sustained input: we need to work at relationships if we want them to continue to improve and deliver mutual benefits
● Financial savings and improved quality: integrated working and delivery of multi-purpose, compatible infrastructure achieves more with less
● Promoting the benefits of urban trees: know your subject and make time to educate those you engage with.
These principles can be applied to all sectors of arboriculture. We all have a role to play and we can all make a difference that will hopefully not only bring improvements for our urban trees but also provide us with increased job satisfaction. It is time for change.
Martin Gammie has spent over 30 years working in the forestry, arboriculture and landscape industries. He is currently Director at his own arboricultural consultancy, Consulting with Trees.