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The Tree Experts (Hardback)

A History of Professional Arboriculture in Britain

By Mark Johnston
Imprint: Windgather Press
Pages: 560
Illustrations: B/w and colour
ISBN: 9781911188889
Published: 15th June 2021
Casemate UK Academic


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Trees are now in the public eye as never before. The threat of tree diseases, the felling of street trees and the challenge of climate change are just some of the issues that have put trees in the media spotlight. At the same time, the trees in our parks, gardens and streets are a vital resource that can deliver environmental, social and economic benefits that make our towns and cities attractive, green and healthy places.


Ever since Roman times when amenity trees were first planted in Britain, caring for those trees has required specialist skills. This is mainly because of the challenges of successfully integrating large trees into the urban environment and the risks involved in working with them, often at height and in close proximity to people, buildings and roads. But who are the people with the specialist expertise to care for our amenity trees? While professionals such as horticulturists, landscape architects, conservationists and foresters have a role to play, it is the arboriculturists who are the ‘tree experts’. For centuries arboriculture was often synonymous with forestry or considered an aspect of horticulture, until it emerged in the nineteenth century as a separate discipline. There are now some 22,000 people employed in Britain’s arboricultural industry, including practical tree surgeons and arborists, local authority tree officers and arboricultural consultants.


This is the first book to trace the history of Britain’s professional tree experts, from the Roman arborator to the modern chartered arboriculturist. It also discusses the influences from continental Europe and North America that have helped to shape British arboriculture over the centuries. The Tree Experts will have particular appeal to those interested in the natural and built environment, heritage landscapes, social history and the history of gardening.

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About Mark Johnston

Mark Johnston is an independent scholar who holds a PhD in urban forestry from the University of Ulster. He has nearly fifty years’ experience in the greenspace industry, including working as a tree officer in local government, a consultant in private practice, a government adviser and a university academic. His contribution to trees and the urban environment has been widely acknowledged with several prestigious national and international awards.

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