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GLAS Special: Busy times for Arboricultural Association Ireland

“Ash Dieback, caused by the fungal pathogen ‘Hymenoscyphus fraxineus’, is now becoming very visible in the landscape”

Felim Sheridan reviews the latest opportunities and challenges facing the Arboricultural Association



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19 July 2023

For over 50 years, the Arboricultural Association has been the professional body representing the amenity tree care industry in both the UK and Ireland.

With over 2,000 members, the association sets standards for arboricultural contracting (tree surgery) and consultancy, in addition to advising on international policy and standards in tree care, urban forestry and green infrastructure areas.

The association publishes its quarterly ‘Arb Magazine’ for members and also the ‘Arboricultural Journal – The International Journal of Urban Forestry’.


Oak Processionary Moth (Thaumetopea processionea). Image via the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine

The Irish branch of the association was established in 1999 and holds a number of events each year for those professionally involved and interested in improving the practice in the informed assessment, conservation and management of Ireland’s landscape tree resource.

Past events have included workshops on Fungi, Bats in Trees and Veteran Tree Management with our latest being a practical Workshop held in late June this year demonstrating twin rope working and incorporating tree climber anchor loads and stem stress, as well as carrying out an in-situ destructive experiment on negative rigging operations.

Some of the Upcoming events we hope to hold in the near future include a fungi walk in September/October 2023 – location to be confirmed and CAVAT training day with Chris Neilan in Dublin and Belfast in early November 2023.

Other activities that the Irish branch of the arboricultural association has been involved in include:

The Arboricultural Apprenticeship Scheme

The new and first ever Apprenticeship in Arboriculture in Ireland was set up by the industry in association with Galway Roscommon Educational Training Board (GRETB) to improve and raise the standard of tree work in Ireland.

It’s a two-year programme that includes block release off-the-job class-based training as well as on-the-job training with their employers. On successful completion of the programme the apprentice will be awarded an Advanced Certificate in Arboriculture Level 6 (Level 4 UK).

The apprenticeship has been live for two years now with the first class of apprentices having just graduated in May of this year and it is hoped this apprenticeship will be a great boost to the arboricultural industry.

A Guide for Landowners to Managing Roadside Trees 

Published in late 2021 by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. This concise guide was written for the general public. It provides simple advice on implementing an informed programme of management to improve both public safety and tree conservation.

Industry challenges

Challenges for the industry include items such as staffing, which we hope will now improve with the launch of the Apprenticeship in Arboriculture’ which will hopefully see more qualified apprentices coming into the workforce each year.

Other issues facing the industry will include climate changes and the management of pest and diseases in our tree population, with the band of these broadening with climate change. The biggest one facing the industry at present will be the management and the safety of our Ash tree population with ‘Ash Dieback’ caused by the fungal pathogen ‘Hymenoscyphus fraxineus’, now becoming very visible in the landscape.

New pests are also a threat to our tree population such as the Oak Processionary Moth (Thaumetopea processionea) which could have a devastating effect on our Oak tree population if not detect early and eradicated.

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