Tree Tech Consulting    The Knothole  Hop To Forum Categories  Ethics in Arboriculture    Arborist news Article

Closed Topic Closed
Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
Arborist news Article
 Login/Join 
<Guy>
posted
It was good to see the ISA mag take a look at ethics this month. The issue of how to deal with trees and risk was dealt with well, as one arborist advocated informing the clients of risk and value and all responsible options impartially and letting them decide, while another felt strongly the "duty to safety and the public and the client before the tree itself."

At the risk of stirring up the same can of worms again, it looks to me like the first approach treats clients like responsible adults while the second treats clients like people who need protection from their own decisions. Since all trees have risk potential, once arborists start acting primarily on a "duty to safety", where do they stop? When they're living in a desert?

An arborist is by definition in Webster's "a specialist in the care and maintenance of trees". So by definition our first duty is to care for and maintain the tree. If you decide that your duty is always first and foremost to protect tree owners and the public, then you are acting as a public safety consultant and not as an arborist. From that point of view, the only good tree is a removed tree.

Yes there is a time in every tree's life when it has to go, but imo that decision is the owner's to make, after the arborists have done their primary duty by laying out all responsible options to care for and maintain the tree.

Regardless of where you are on this issue, it is good to see it discussed in Arborist News.
 
Report This Post
<Stephen Wiley>
posted
Reply to post by Guy, on February 15, 2003 at 10:46:07:

"Assuming both removal and preservation are legal and within the rights of the parties "I would not understand your professional role to be advocating or opposing either position. If asked for your own preference "what if it was in your yard?" of course you could describe your
preference. It might well be unethical for you to take sides. It would be unethical to falsify facts for either party.. or obscure facts even if it was to advance a position you believed in. You do your job well, you apply your expertise, you tell the truth."

Posted in earlier thread from Scott Cullen

"At the risk of stirring up the same can of worms again,....."

---------------------

In my opinion this is not stirring up worms, but rather sharpening skills on a wetstone.

Again, your respone might be considered "situational" to the advantage of your bias. Webster's term "specialist" falls short of a known tangible. The opening of dialogue can only result in a clearer understanding of our professional values.

Scott, Russ, Wayne, Julian, Peter care to weigh in on this?
 
Report This Post
<Scott>
posted
Reply to post by Stephen Wiley, on February 15, 2003 at 10:46:07:

Let's put some order into this.

Do I understand the question posed by Guy to be which of three positions is ethically proper? From the A-N article A) first duty to public safety or B) first duty to advise of tree value vs risk and options or C) from Guy first duty to trees?

First and foremost Webster's (or Worldbook or OED or Encarta) do not create duties and do not necessarily define specific trems as applied to professional or trade practice. These are general defintions used in day to day parlance.

Definitions which apply to a trade or profession are generally more precise than general parlance, may vary from general parlance and may be set forth in membership agreements, marketing materials, standards (e.g. ANSI or ASCA SPP) or in codes (e.g. ISA Code of Ethics).

Duties are created by law, by voluntary acceptance of specific standars or guidelines or more generally by "generally accepted" practice.

So, notwitstanding Webster, I think you cannot think of arborist without also thinking of arboriculture and I think arboriculture is usually thought of as tree care in a peopled environment. You cannot divorce people from the picture.

I have not read the A-N article and do not have the ISA Code of Ethics at hand. But as I recall, the ISA Code puts people and public safety ahead of the trees. I do not recall an ISA commitment (or resulting duty) to put trees ahead of their owners.

That said, Guy recognizes a real danger in the "public safety" duty. First, a lot of arborists, organizations and even educators are running scared of liability. Others are acknowledging that no tree is "safe" and we can only scale risks. Secondly, having scaled risks and given options on how to deal with risks, what to do is an ownership decision (as regulsated or encumbered by law).

Your opinion on options should not be biased either toward removal because you have a chipper to feed or you're are afraid of liability nor toward keeping the tree because you hate tree removal. You should give fact based opinions.

People trust you for your expertise. Your first duty is to give them honest, fact based, technically sound information. If you are a tree hugger you can advocate tree preservation when you are not on the job. You can decline to do the removal if you don't like the idea. You can beg and plead with the client to leave the tree they want to remove. But you cannot give them false reasons for doing so.

On the other side if the owner wants to leave a tree that poses an immediate risk to another property or the public (really immediate, there is absolutely no doubt this tree is coming down soon and it will hit the day care center) you do have a duty to tell the other owner or the appropriate authority.
 
Report This Post
<Guy>
posted
Reply to post by Scott, on April 02, 2003 at 04:40:19:

Well Scott I'm glad you were finally drawn out on this. I agree with much of what you say, like "position B) first duty to advise of tree value vs risk and options." An arborist's first duty is to care for trees, but "care" to me includes putting to death whaen necessary. Hippocrates, meet Kevorkian.
So my option "C) from Guy first duty to trees?" is qualified.

"... I think arboriculture is usually thought of as tree care in a peopled environment. You cannot divorce people from the picture." True. But you should keep them in their place. Trees came first.

"But as I recall, the ISA Code puts people and public safety ahead of the trees." Yes, I think that's the first ethic; very unfortunately stated.

"That said, Guy recognizes a real danger in the "public safety" duty. First, a lot of arborists, organizations and even educators are running scared of liability." Bingo! "Others are acknowledging that no tree is "safe" and we can only scale risks. Secondly, having scaled risks and given options on how to deal with risks, what to do is an ownership decision (as regulsated or encumbered by law)." Right! Bias does not belong in consulting. We should state every reason to keep the tree and every reason to be concerned about it. And hopefully we are well-versed enough in maintenance techniques to also state every way to mitigate risk short of removal. Keeping a hands-on working relationship with trees over time is one way; close observation can also make this possible.

"On the other side if the owner wants to leave a tree that poses an immediate risk to another property or the public (really immediate, there is absolutely no doubt this tree is coming down soon and it will hit the day care center) you do have a duty to tell the other owner or the appropriate authority."
Once, tree roots were graded and big trees listed toward a highway. I called the police. Last week a client's splitting 60' Bradford pear listed toward a neighbor's car parked across the street; I told the owner that it should be moved and thinking them responsible left it at that.
Tree could have been kept around awhile with much hardware but preservationist fanatic that I am I had to note it would be a huge expense for a short-term gain then agreed with the customer when they, as much as they loved the tree, said that would be dumb.

So yes I believe that for an arborist trees come first but not at the expense of people.
 
Report This Post
  Powered by Social Strata  

Closed Topic Closed

Tree Tech Consulting    The Knothole  Hop To Forum Categories  Ethics in Arboriculture    Arborist news Article

© 1997-2003 Tree Tech Consulting. All messages are the property of the original author.