Recently AWA Tree Consultant, Patrick, undertook the LANTRA Award in Professional Tree Inspection, provided by The Arboricultural Association in Staffordshire. He hoped to join his colleagues at AWA by gaining this invaluable qualification (who’d all passed with flying colours – so no pressure Patrick!). Here’s what he had to say about his experience on the course:
The first of three days (two for training, and a third for assessment), begins with the obligatory introduction session, whereby everyone is paired-up and tasked with noting some basic information about their partner. We then proceed to work clockwise around the room, each revealing some career-related facts about our respective partners. This uncovered an eclectic mix of tree-related professionals; climbing arborists, tree officers, ecologists, utility inspectors, park rangers and arboricultural consultants.
From here, the course comprised a balanced mix of theory and practical sessions, including time for group discussions on relevant topics (fungal strategies of wood decay, biomechanics, Visual Tree Assessment techniques etc), but also to get out amongst the extensive historic gardens of Hawkesyard Estate and apply our knowledge with hands-on tree assessments.
The trainer used this time to give individual feedback to participants to help us work towards a systematic and consistent methodology of carrying out visual inspections of trees. He also concisely explained the marking system for the Professional Tree Inspection examination; 20% for fungal identification, 40% for two separate practical tree inspections, 20% for a clear and associated key, and 20% for a written assessment.
For myself, it felt important to put a particular emphasis on getting to grips with the fungi likely to come up in the test, as essentially if you get more than one incorrect identification you’ve failed the course, irrespective of how you have fared in all other aspects. The course stated that I’d require an excellent knowledge of wood decaying fungi and while I was familiar with those key fungi in the textbooks and from surveys, I was nervous they’re might have been a curveball!
The last years’ experience of working full time with the team at AWA, as a trainee Arboricultural Consultant, had made me relatively confident in the practical aspect of the tree risk inspections – in identifying the signs and symptoms of ill health and structural failure across a wide range of tree species and circumstances and specifying the necessary remedial works. I would certainly have been less assured had I taken the assessment while still practicing as a climbing arborist prior to any tree survey and consultancy experience.
The bulk of the content for the written assessment is all common-place information for professional arboriculturists, and with reasonable practical tree survey and theoretical experience, and keen ear throughout the two training days, capable arborists are unlikely to come unstuck here.
I’m happy to say I passed the course with 91% success! It felt good to join my colleagues at AWA Tree Consultants – holding the LANTRA Professional Tree Inspection qualification takes me to the next level in my journey in professional arboriculture.
Overall, the PTI course was a well-run and informative event, that I got a lot from. The assessor had a comprehensive understanding of relevant topics and effectively communicated important information to the group. I came away from the experience with a more robust and refreshed understanding of many of the subjects covered by my Diploma and work experience.
All employees at AWA Tree Consultants have LANTRA Professional Tree Inspection qualification as a minimum, to complement their other academic qualifications. Anyone advertising their services for tree surveys should be experienced and qualified arboriculturists with an in-depth knowledge of plant and arboricultural science. While the Professional Tree Inspection course is advertised as an “advanced” course, I think it’s more like the minimum qualification for professionals who undertake tree surveys.