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Arborist influence on decision makers Is there a need
<Stephen Wiley>
The 'Liberty Tree' has gathered a lot of conversation about arborist responsilbilty in decision making.

So where are the boundry's in stating our opinions or forcing facts on those not wanting to listen.

E.G.> Posted in the 'Dear Editor' section:


Each year the landscape architect for the Capitol of
the United States selects a tree to serve as the
nation's holiday tree. This year, the tree will come
from Wisconsin's Argonne Experimental Forest in the
Nicolet-Chequamegon National Forest near Rhinelander.

The 80-year-old, 70-foot white spruce will be cut on
November 11th and will arrive in Washington D.C. on
November 29th. It will be set up on the west slope of
the Capitol, facing the Washington Monument."

Should "we" (referring to us arborists) condone the wanton discriminate destruction of a valuable resource tree. For a few moments of notariety at the nation's capitol?
What about the disturbance to the experimental site? It seems to me that the nations decision makers, will not seek out 'preservation potential' for significant trees while continuing to destroy them for ceremonial purposes.

Maybe a combined ISA,NAA,ASCA,Society of Foresters should recommend the establishment of a LIVE tree for such purposes.

But then Clinton & Gore (Leading Enviromental Consultants) would probably hire a plumber to take care of it!
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<Scott Cullen>
Reply to post by Stephen Wiley, on November 04, 1999 at 00:16:29:

There are several levels of "arborist" and "we" in your query and they need to be distinguished before a meaningful discussion.

1. Broadest scope. By very virtue (maybe vice, I'll not offer an opinion here), of being an arborist (by license, certification, vocation or avocation) is one ethically bound to some philosophical or policy position on "valuable resources" that prohibits a range of opinion, action partcipaption, condoning or even tolerating?

2. Does the contractor arborist - the business person who makes a living by doing things that include tree removal - have a duty to not take certain jobs which are a) legally permitted and b) approved and requested by a fully informed owner or responsible decision maker? Or maybe, is tree removal at all unethical?

3. Does the independent consulting arborist have a duty to see all trees preserved and all removals of "valuable resources" opposed?

I've stated somewhat absurd extremes in each example but the roles are different. Are the ethical responsibilities different too?

And inseparable from the picture: who decides what is "valuable" and who has the right to either preserve or convert that value? (Some might say "destroy," and in some cases the value if any might indeed be squandered, but harvesting a resource properly converts one vlaue to another).
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<Peter cTorres>
Reply to post by Stephen Wiley, on November 04, 1999 at 00:16:29:

Personally, I don't have a problem with cutting down that tree. Regards, Peter
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<Russ Carlson>
Reply to post by Stephen Wiley, on November 04, 1999 at 00:16:29:

There is not a single 'right' answer to the question, nor are the alternatives necessarily 'wrong'. I think each issue must be considered on its own merits.

A holiday tree in the nation's capital is a symbol of the season, when we (hopefully) take pause to reflect on meaning and possibility of world peace, is a justifiable use of one tree. I can think of many other trees that have been cut for far less reason.

Most of us arborists are in this business because we want to be. Simply put, we love trees. We want to see them protected, so we can enjoy them. Putting one tree each year in the Capital allows many to enjoy it, and is a much better use than ending up as a pallet.
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<Scott Cullen>
Reply to post by Russ Carlson, on November 04, 1999 at 00:16:29:

I think it goes beyond case by case consideration of facts.. Maybe "beyond" is the wrong word and there are considerations that come before. If the question is ethical behavior one has to consider what set of ethics apply. If an individual sincerely believes that trees of certain "significance" - size age, rarity, whatever - should never be cut or maybe even never pruned or otherwise touched, then partcipating or even standing by while someone else does it would be unethical. But then Joe McCarthy sincerely believed that anyone who was not a zealous red hunter was just as bad as any commie. Such strong beliefs may preclude someone from working in tree care or forestry, except perhaps as a tree advocate and protector.

Assuming that's not the case and the individual is reconciled to humans making decisions about trees, pruning them, removing them, harvesting them, whatever then one has to look to somewhat narrower scope ethics. If we assume that the general societal ethics of honesty and fair dealing apply to everybody we have to look at specific ethics that apply to a trade or profession. That gets messy too, because what one person thinks is OK another may see as unconscionable.... UNLESS there is a clear set of ethical and/or professional guidelines to look to for guidance.

That's precisely why ASCA developed and adopted its Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Practice. Looking to that document for guidance concerning the question posed here one would probable consider the ethical principals of Independence and Objectivity. "Independence is freedom - in fact and apearance - from influences which could prejudice Objectivity and honest convictions and judgments." "Objectivity is the state or quality of being Objective, that is, concerned with what is real and based on available facts and reasonable assumptions." "Even when Independence is properly maintained, Objectivity can be compromised by factors..... [including].... the personal or philosophical bias(es) or emotion(s) of the consultant..."

It appears from these provisions that an independent consultant would need to be very careful to keep personal beliefs about "significant trees" out of an analysis... say to determine if "this large tree can be cut down significantly intact and transported to Washington, DC and set up as a holiday tree for several weeks without falling apart or loosing all its needles before the end of the display period." Say there was every reason to determine the tree could be used safely in that fashion, but the consultant suggested it might not be becasue of a personal belief that such a use was "wrong." Objectivity would have been compromised and the eithical principle would have been breached.

The point is that in an ASCA conetxt at least the ethical guidelines already exist. Anyone with a real interest can obtain the document from ASCA or attend the Academy course on it in NAPA next March. (And ethically disclosing my interest, I happen to teach the course... hope to see another good class this year!)
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Reply to post by Stephen Wiley, on November 04, 1999 at 00:16:29:

This particular tree happens to come from a test plot on a USFS research station.

It was planted 80 years ago by a reasearcher who was looking for suoerior timber stock.

It's not like they went into a virgin stand, but then we dont have many of those here in Wisconsin (Go Dayne!) anymore.
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Reply to post by Stephen Wiley, on November 04, 1999 at 00:16:29:

I have been reading all the pros and cons regarding ethics.
When I go look at a tree and the client wants it cut down,if there is a way to
save the tree,I will explore an alternative with them.
The bottom is "IT IS THERE TREE" and thet will do what they want with it.I am not
going to walk away and take food off my table for a tree that would just be removed by someone else.
Most of us are in the businessbecause we love treesbut we also must make a living.
Walking away from a job that can be safely done,dosn't seem like good business to me.
I have walked away from work only because my little voice says to.I have learned the hard way to listen when the little voice speaks.
If the owner of this controversial tree wants to send it to Washington,more power to them.
Just my opinion,Bill
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