‘Often in our articles, we use the terms “Arboriculture” and “Urban Forestry”. What is the difference?
Arboriculture is the science of care for an individual tree. It is the focus, action plan and engagements to nurture and, if needed, repair that tree for better vitality and longevity. If there are 5 trees in the yard, 100 trees in a park, or 20 trees in a parking lot, the arboricultural focus and science is still caring for one tree at a time.
Urban Forestry is what its name implies: in man-made settings and sites, the“community of trees” is the focus. It is a management practice which usually doesn’t engage single trees. Often, the term “canopy’ is applied in urban forestry. Just as in a natural woodlands, one can see nearly contiguous leaf coverage, i.e. the canopy, in many urban environments. One primary goal of UF is growing the canopy to cover the streets, parking lots and plazas.
Arboriculture spends a lot of time dealing with what the needs of the tree: massaging the givens that exist to make the tree more viable. There are times where an arborist will ask, “Is this investment viable? Is there good ROI for this tree and its owner?” Most times, however, an arborist will work to save each tree at all cost.
Urban Forestry spends a lot more time in planning, evaluating and assessing the needs of the sites and then establishing trees and tree management to work around and within the site’s limits. Urban Foresters are tasked with balancing the needs of the trees with the planned use and development of the site- the trees are not the primary consideration.
While both arborists and urban foresters talk of “right tree, right place”, arborists have a much broader tolerance for the tree’s long-term future – and often the budget per tree is more expansive. Urban Foresters have shorter time frames, tighter windows and usually few tree choices to fit the demanding sites. Most UF’ers also have constricted budgets, so their per-tree cost must be controlled.
Arborists believe and act on the premise that all trees can have generational values, i.e. 50 years + on site. Many of the sites with which Urban Foresters work actually prohibit longevity and so they plan for a rate of attrition which will prescribe the removal and replacement of trees routinely. Often for every one hundred trees planted in an urban forestry project, or for every thousand trees in a city-scape, less than 50% will be still viable in 25 years. Few will every become 50 years old.
As consultants, we practice in both arenas. Goals statements are therefore critical for the proper plan and to achieve the desired outcomes. Nearly every day, TreeMasters serves clients as tree management specialists, as tree evaluators, as tree doctors, and sometimes tree morticians!
You can contact us any time to talk about your trees or your site.
Jeff Ling is a Registered Consulting Arborist and Co-Founder of TreeMasters, Inc., a full service arbor-care company, located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. TreeMasters provides tree owners with scientific tree management services throughout Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio.